Drug Reform Essay

Illicit drugs are a significant issue in Australia which have led to the development of a number of strategies which aim to eliminate their possession, use and supply. The policy response to drug related crimes includes supply reduction, such as border security, demand reduction, such as school programs and public awareness campaigns, and harm minimisation strategies, for example injecting rooms and methadone clinics. Statistics and media reports give an indication on how effective these remedies have been, and they show how supply and demand reduction has been ultimately ineffective, however, harm minimisation has been effective to a moderate extent.
Australia has a total prohibition on a number of substances, as outlined by the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act (NSW, 1985); however this has not stopped Australia from having one of the highest amounts of drug use in the developed world. According to the 2004 ‘National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS)’, 38% of Australians aged 14 years and over had used any illicit drug at least once in their lifetime. This creates a number of issues including drug related crime, with one in ten prisoners being imprisoned for drug-related offences (ABS, 2006), diseases such as HIV/Aids as the result of unsterile needles being used by injecting drug users, and a substantial number of drug-induced deaths. A report entitled ‘Trends in Drug Use and Related Harms in Australia, 2001-2011’, states that there are 2 deaths per hundred opiate users per annum. This is relatively high compared with legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco with 0.22 (10 times less) and 0.3 (7 times less) deaths per hundred, respectively. An article from ‘The Australian’, written in 2011, states that “one of the main benefits of the war (on drugs) has been to serve as a deterrent that helps people from starting to consume drugs”. This is evidently not the case, as seen in statistics expressing the significant numbers of drug users.

The existing measures...