Decriminalisation of possession and use of certain ‘hard’ drugs in the ACT
The ACT Government has signalled it will move to further decriminalise the possession and personal use of small quantities drugs widely considered as ‘hard drugs’ including cocaine, heroin and ‘ice’.
The rationale for this change is that the use of these drugs, as distinct from the importation, manufacture and sale of drugs, is a health issue. That is an entirely appropriate perspective. Taking a medical approach for those in need of treatment is sensible. Our anthropology as Christians seeks human flourishing – that every person has life to the full. Health treatment for pathologies is part of this goal of flourishing.
What has created more controversy are the proposed quantities of the drugs involved.
ACT Police suggest intended quantities of some drugs are greater than ‘personal use’ amounts. Some members of the Assembly suggest the proposals are in conflict with the Commonwealth Criminal Code and may result in the legislation being inoperable or overturned.
Despite the emphasis on health treatments there are contrasting outcomes where this has been attempted. In Portugal, a similar change was accompanied by a dramatic increase the availability of rehabilitation services and has resulted in a decline in drug use as well as significant improvement in the effectiveness of rehabilitation. When funded well with good services, the outcome can be flourishing.
The situation in Oregon is a study in contrasts. There the measure has floundered due to no increase in services and those that did already exist being overwhelmed – no flourishing in that approach!
As the ACT Assembly considers these changes, they need to also allocate significantly for improved services to enable human flourishing not further damage to health and society.
I fully agree with this initiative and need to expand services. Its well beyond time that illicit drug use was treated as a health issue rather than relying on the criminal law.
Oregon here we come! Good luck getting the Greens/Labor government to put any money into health, or anything that isn’t a tram!
Drugs harm people. Using hard drugs like cocaine and ice damages the users, their families and our society, and the damage done is long term. Decriminalising drugs sends a strong message to young people that using drugs is OK. I am appalled at this move by our government. It shows they have a complete misunderstanding of addiction, and it appears they are even encouraging more people to fall into drug addiction. It’s a long, hard road out, and many people don’t make it out alive.
Following questions have been not raised or answered
How are we going to monitor new entrants trialling hard drugs?
How are we going to stop illegal business by few getting together and buy the minimum allowed and sell as a large quantity or consume large quantities in turn?
How are we going to stop interstate members of the community flock to Canberra to buy from Canberrans on-selling?
What is the back-up plan if the additional services or not funded adequately?
Why is this important issue does not go through a referendum?
In my view the intentions may be good but not an issue to be pushed due to the pressure from Greens. Too soon