We want to feature an excellent paper by Dr Alex Wodak on the future of drug law reform.
Wodak takes us through a brief history of the evolution of Australian drug policy, beginning with pre-Federation laws aimed at Chinese opium smokers on the goldfields, through to Australia becoming signatory to three UN treaties aimed at criminal sanctions for trafficking.
Whilst Australia has long defined its drug policy in the shadow of US influence, with all the trappings - political condemnation of people who use drugs, disproportionate allocation of budgets to the criminal justice system - there are signs this attitude is changing, with many questioning the effectiveness of ongoing punitive measures.
Many senior figures in the police and politics, both retired and recently serving, have questioned whether Australia is tackling drugs in the most effective way, and whether an alternative ought to be explored.
As we have stated in previous articles, the nature and structure of the Australian drug market has changed, yet Australian governments continue to use the same decades-old strategies to deal with it. What we have now are dangerous new drugs being sold as familiar substances, putting users at risk from potentially deadly consequences. Services such as pill testing - which Wodak mentions in this article as part of a suite of harm reduction measures - are urgently needed to protect the community and save lives.