Thread: Greens in radical new drug legalisation push

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    Greens in radical new drug legalisation push 
    Greens in radical new drug legalisation push

    The Greens have made a radical change to their drugs policy which leader Richard Di Natale hopes will reignite the decriminalisation debate and pave the way for the legalisation of recreational drugs like cannabis.

    The party has officially ditched its blanket opposition to the legalisation of illicit drugs from its policy platform after members voted to support changes driven by Senator Di Natale at their national conference in Perth on Saturday.

    Senator Di Natale – a former drug and alcohol doctor – says the global "war on drugs" has failed and the time has come for a dramatically different approach. He says he's prepared for the conservative media backlash that the new policy will inevitably invite.

    "I'm ready for it. I think it's about time Australia had this conversation because it's killing our kids," he told Fairfax Media.

    "It's time to recognise this is a health problem not a law and order one. We have to have an open, honest conversation about this and stop pretending we're winning this war – we're losing and losing fast."

    The prohibition clause was introduced into the platform under former leader Bob Brown at a time when the Greens were under sustained attack from conservative politicians and the media over their liberal approach.

    The new policy platform says "the current punitive approach to drug use has failed to stop illicit drugs use".

    "The legal framework for drugs and other substances used for non-medical purposes should be informed by evidence of the extent and nature of the harm likely to be caused. Education is a vital tool in reducing both harm from and demand for drugs, including legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco," it says.

    The Greens want a new independent national regulatory authority set up to assess and reduce the harm of illicit drugs – an approach that would likely lead to the decriminalisation or legalisation of drugs like cannabis.

    The body would assess drugs on a case-by-case basis, but Senator Di Natale says harder drugs like ice and heroin would not be legalised under this model.

    The Greens also want more pill testing, medically supervised injecting facilities in every state and needle exchange programs in prisons.

    The policy change comes after an exhaustive 12-month national consultation process with experts, doctors and law enforcement. Senator Di Natale also travelled on a fact-finding mission to Portugal, which decriminalised drugs 15 years ago leading to a decrease in teenage drug use, crime, disease and overdoses.

    The money saved from law enforcement has gone into treatment, rehabilitation, education and prevention services.

    "That has to be the next step for Australia," Senator Di Natale said. "We have to recognise that locking up people who use drugs is totally counter-productive. What it does is it creates an environment where people who want to seek help don't do it because they have to admit to doing an illegal activity.

    "It channels people through the criminal justice system when they should be seeing a doctor or a health professional."

    Senator Di Natale is co-convener of the Australian Parliamentary Group on Drug Law Reform, a cross-party group of about 100 state and commonwealth MPs which helped drive recent changes allowing medicinal cannabis.

    He says he's looking for new major party recruits for the body.
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    Bluelighter Ziiirp's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    City of Schmocks
    Quote Originally Posted by poledriver View Post
    The policy change comes after an exhaustive 12-month national consultation process with experts, doctors and law enforcement. Senator Di Natale also travelled on a fact-finding mission to Portugal, which decriminalised drugs 15 years ago leading to a decrease in teenage drug use, crime, disease and overdoses.
    Thanks for the info. Does that mean, that by the end of the next year Australia will have established a model of conduct towards substances similar to Portugal ? So they cancel all those analogue law bullshit, too ? What are the chances for that ?

    Meaning how strong is the conservative wing in Australia (and the pharma lobby), that certainly will deny such a proposal, compared to liberal partys like The Greeens ? I'm Central European, where drug laws get more ridiculous and intransparent year by year,
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    ^ The reality as I understand it is that the Greens just don't have the political clout to actually initiate the enacting of this kind of policy change by themselves, however this is good news from the point of view of pushing these issues into the political dialogue.
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    I suspect I’ll be doing this each time someone from the political establishment talks about drug policy, but here we are, again.

    Recently, Senator Richard Di Natale reported that the Australian Greens had decided to drop their opposition to legalisation of currently illicit drugs from their policy platform. This did not mean that anything would automatically become legal. Rather, what the Greens seem to be supporting is a process of determining possible harm, then adjusting the legal status of substances accordingly. So, something that is relatively less harmful – to the extent that its illegality is the main source of possible harm – would be decriminalised or legalised. (Note: legalisation does not have to follow the US model). The Senator also specifically said that substances that were particularly dangerous, such as methamphetamine (Ice) and heroin would not be legalised under this system.

    Now, it is no surprise that the current conservative Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley, voiced her opposition to this. Nor is it particularly surprising that current Australian Medical Association president, Dr Michael Gannon, would take a similar line. It was curious though to have both Dr Gannon and Minister Ley mention Ice.

    From the Minster: “The Coalition government is against all forms of illegal drugs, and is particularly concerned about the impact ice is having across Australia, especially in regional areas”. Well, the minster should be in at least partial agreement with Di Natale, who said Ice wouldn’t be legalised (remember). (I will leave aside the question of whether the Minster thinks that illegality is inherently bad until I discuss section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act).

    There was also the stock repetition of “The Australian government will never legalise a drug that destroys brain function, mental wellbeing, general health, employment, relationships, lives and families.”. This is at least partially inconsistent coming from a government that allows alcohol, poker machines, social media, left-wing academics, and The Bachelor.

    Dr Gannon was less subtle, tweeting “Don’t underestimate misery Ice causing”. Ok – but I would have thought that the fact that legalisation of Ice was explicitly off the table would make such a statement somewhat redundant.

    What are we to make of this? Perhaps both the Minster and Dr Gannon didn’t really pay attention to what Senator Di Natale had said. Or perhaps they know that people tend not to read whole articles; the mention of Ice – and erroneous implication that the Greens would legalise it – will stick in people’s minds. While it is not excusable, I expect politicians to use cynical post-truth tactics, so I should not be surprised.

    But, expected or not, without any elaboration, the mention of Ice is a distraction. If someone says we shouldn’t do something, then responding by loudly proclaiming that you are against precisely that same thing makes no sense. That would be like me saying “We shouldn’t go to the beach as there’s a storm coming.”, and then my housemate responding by saying “I disagree – I’m totally against going to the beach during storms”.

    If we are to have a policy debate, perhaps politicians could start by actually responding to what their opponents actually say – rather than simply trying to manipulate voter sentiment.
    Links in the article -
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    It's kind if bullshit to say you want a system where drugs are legalized where it's determined the illegality causes more harm than the drug, then take two of the most popular drugs arbitrarily off the table because they're arbitrarily too evil. Why have such a system at all if you arbitrarily exclude some drugs from it. That's what we have now, we legislate drugs according to the risk, and then define a bunch of other, recreational drugs as too dangerous to be legal on the basis of "because we say so".

    In actual fact all they're talking about is potentially decriminalizing mdma perhaps and weed, and only in theory, since they can't do any if it in practice.
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    While it seems fairly arbitrary in this case, I don't think it needs to be, in the long run. Obviously we'd need research and experimentation to be sure, but in the case of some drugs it really is the case that the greater harm is caused by the substance itself than by the prohibition of the substance (I'm thinking methamphetamine in particular, but I imagine there are other examples).

    That's not to say that harm couldn't be reduced by loosening restrictions and refocusing efforts on harm reduction, but I think we need to look at things as a spectrum, with each substance falling at it's own place along the spectrum of "complete prohibition - free access" after a careful period of study and legal adjustment. It makes perfect sense that each substance, being unique, would need a unique legal framework.

    Of course, it does need to be based on science, not on preconceived notions or moral pandering. If making methamphetamine available at the corner store is the least harmful of all the available options, we should take it - but I sincerely doubt that it will be.
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    Bluelighter OND43X's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    [Sydney] Aussie-Land
    Look i want to start off by clarifying that i believe prohibition and the war on drugs is has been a total failure, and i guess if i was alittle younger i wouldve agreed with this new greens party policy too (still wouldn't have voted for them but that's for another discussion) BUT... Now i don't it would be a good idea.

    I think this policy (and any like this) wouldve been drawn up moreso on attention and attracting fanbase than on what 'we' can do better and what ultimately will benefit Australia.

    Also I have absolutely no faith at all that the greens wouldve seriously evaluated both the - or + consequences such a policy Could create.

    Specially when you look how some of those in western governments today are driven more by their ideology than on facts or logic, recent times this has been more prevalent by those on the left, and the greens are as far to the left one can go!...

    I think this policy could create a scenario that wouldn't be in the best interest of Australia as a whole, and has the potential to do more harm than good. Oddly Australia Deregulating legalizing/recreational drugs wouldn't be the major reason for all that...


    If a country like Australia or any western nation made a POLICY like this on their own (no other countries have legalized), this would basically open up Australia to be used as a courier/transit country at the very least, but more likely into a significant illegal drug producer/smuggling country.

    Organised crime in Australia would quickly take advantage of this and not only profit in exporting the actual drug but also the precursors too. All this would also open up these groups to more power, money and ultimately they would grow more violent and more powerful and more able to corrupt the longer it went on.

    International organised crime groups wdould effectively see Australia as an attractive or even valuable location for expansion or control. Just those two would create problems far worse than the positlives this policy would make.

    no matter how much any potential government or their policy may say they would have total control over the sale and production, if you put in a policy that creates a virtual monopoly style 'just visiting jail' spot for the illegal drug industry, without a regional legalization push st the least, nothing would stop this policy negatively effecting Australia as a whole.
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