Top Menu

In the News RSS feed for this section

Weed Campaigner Calls for Decriminalisation of Meth

” Prohibition and punishment has never stopped anyone from ruining their lives, all it has ever done is to make the vulnerable the prey of the criminals and added a terrible burden to that of addiction through the loss of reputation and opportunity by their treatment as criminals by our society and our judicial system.” […]

NZ: Methamphetamine set to overtake cannabis as biggest drug burden on our court system

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said a new approach was needed with Kiwis being some of the biggest meth users in the world. When the issue was tackled only through law enforcement and the criminal justice system, courts got clogged up, Bell said. “If you talk to cops they say you can’t arrest your way out of this problem.” […]

Science Proves Marijuana Is Not A Gateway Drug, And Never Was

According to Canadian brain researcher, Dr. Matthew Hill, “I’d say the whole idea of cannabis being a gateway drug is a debunked thing at this point. …I don’t think there’s any evidence to support that,” said Hill, who is an assistant professor at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary. […]

‘Truly it will save lives’: Dublin first supervised injecting centre

The country’s first supervised drug injecting centre will be operated by Merchants Quay Project. The new facility will provide access to clean, sterile injecting equipment and have trained staff on hand to provide emergency care in the event of an overdose. Staff will also provide advice on treatment and rehabilitation. Proponents of such centres argue that they also help alleviate the problems associated with injecting on the street, including drug-related litter. […]

We All Use Drugs, So Treat Drug Users as You Would Want to Be Treated

The war on drugs is really a war on us. It is time to decriminalize all drugs and stop arresting people simply for using or possessing a certain substance. We are all using drugs, most non-problematically. How can we allow the police to target, arrest and lock up our brothers and sisters in cages for something we are all doing? […]

The shortage of publicly-funded rehab beds in Victoria is driving people to move interstate. But for people struggling with addiction, like Kane, it’s not easy.

Victoria’s public rehab services are struggling with the demand, and private centres are fairing little better. Councils like Geelong and Shepparton have recently knocked back plans for private facilities in the face of staunch public opposition. In the midst of increasing addiction rates, many taxpayers refuse to see their money going into rehabilitation services. […]

Malaysia Set to Execute More People for Drug Offenses

Last month, six people were sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Malaysian court. Two are Malaysian and the rest are Indian nationals – another country that maintains the death penalty for drug offenses. While Malaysia has taken steps to make the death penalty for certain drug offenses non-mandatory, slow implementation of the law and the retention of the death penalty means that many more will executed in the name of the war on drugs. […]

Teen widows and the war on drugs

“In a country with the highest teen pregnancy rates in the region, Durana is a teen mother. She has lost her coparent and breadwinner to a state-sanctioned drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands of mostly young men.


To Cut Drug Deaths, City Considers Sanctioned Places to Shoot Up

In 2016, the opioid epidemic claimed 1,374 lives in New York City. That’s roughly four drug overdose deaths each day. One death every seven hours. It’s a harrowing statistic that continues to soar, and New York City officials are floating an idea that so far has not been tried in the United States: sanctioned locations where drug users can shoot up under the supervision of medical staff ready to revive them if they overdose. […]

Rights groups laud Int’l Criminal Court preliminary examination of PH drug war

Human rights organizations lauded the decision of the International Criminal Court to conduct a preliminary examination of the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Human Rights Watch called the ICC’s action as a “rebuke” of the government’s efforts to deny the existence of extrajudicial killings in the country. […]

How labels like ‘addict’ and ‘junkie’ mask class contempt for drug users

A recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) – a group of drug policy reformers including political and business personalities such as Kofi Annan, Richard Branson and Nick Clegg – challenged the stigma surrounding widely held preconceptions about problematic substance use. Many prejudiced views are embedded in the everyday language we use around drugs. […]

Jeff Sessions Makes False Link Between Marijuana and the Opioid Crisis

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that the ten states that legalized medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010 saw significantly fewer opioid deaths compared to states that completely outlaw pot. And in a report published just this week by the RAND Corporation, the 2014 findings were confirmed — though the new study found that the reduction in opioid deaths was the strongest in states that permitted medical marijuana dispensaries to open up. […]

ICC to examine Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ in Philippines

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have opened a preliminary examination into Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs”, which has led to the deaths of thousands since it began in July 2016. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Thursday the examination was a review of whether crimes against humanity had been committed and whether the Hague-based court might have jurisdiction to eventually bring suspects to trial. […]

Time to think about decriminalising dope

We spend millions searching for and incarcerating people for growing and selling a bit of dope. Who are we to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do with their lives, so long as they do not directly affect the lives of others? Why not spend all that money actually helping people if they have a drug problem? […]

Safe drug injection sites in San Francisco expected to open in July, be first in nation

The San Francisco Health Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to support the opening of safe injection sites, which will offer intravenous drug users a clean spot to inject drugs, despite the fact that this drug use is against the law and could draw the ire of the Trump Administration. This vote comes after years of hard work from activists in the liberal city who have steadily argued that it’s important to have these sites, which would have proper hygiene supplies, a trained staff, needle disposal boxes, and access to drug counseling, SF Weekly reported. […]

NZ: Cannabis bills both miss the point

In a continuing effort to stem the tide of male bovine excrement from its polluting effect on our stream of rational consciousness, let’s all understand that, regardless of what opposition politicians claim, neither bill legalises cannabis. They both merely add an exemption from prosecution. […]

Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense for New York

There is no reason why New York, a global economic powerhouse, should not be able to provide its residents with the same opportunities that are being afforded to individuals in states that are generating millions of dollars in revenue from legalization. New York State has the potential to generate billions of dollars in all types of tax revenues from the legalization of marijuana. […]

Nightfall in Philippine slum revives spectre of deaths in drugs war

Bullet-ridden corpses are found hours or even days later, often just a few minutes away, although police say there have been no illegal killings in their anti-drug campaign. Yet the frequent police operations and shadowy murders have hit the slum hard and those who live there say more blood has been spilled since Duterte was elected president on the promise to wipe out drugs and crime in six months.


Calls for use of medicinal cannabis for pain relief amid codeine restrictions

Doctors are concerned access to codeine – which is only available by prescription from today – has been cut off with no viable alternative. Canberra emergency doctor David Caldicott said the use of medicinal marijuana was an obvious solution for pain relief, which he believes is safer and more effective. […]

SF will wipe thousands of marijuana convictions off the books

San Francisco will retroactively apply California’s marijuana-legalization laws to past criminal cases, District Attorney Gascón said Wednesday — expunging or reducing misdemeanor and felony convictions going back decades. The unprecedented move will affect thousands of people whose marijuana convictions brand them with criminal histories that can hurt chances of finding jobs and obtaining some government benefits. […]

Why cannabis is a gateway drug in the right direction

For those who argue that cannabis is a gateway drug, they’re right. It’s a gateway to finally treating people who use and misuse ALL drugs that are currently illegal with compassion. Because it is not just those who are terminally ill who need our compassion and understanding. […]

NZ: Pass both bills: Medical cannabis campaigners to MPs

“Let the people have their say,” said medicinal cannabis patient Rebecca Reider. “The Government bill would force most cannabis patients to remain criminals. Patients are desperately hoping the Swarbrick bill will pass. If MPs have concerns they should let it get to select committee so those concerns can be answered.”


NZ: ‘They’re not doing it because they want to smoke weed’

“The people who are trying to access this medicine are not a bunch of hippies and stoners – they’re not doing it because they want to smoke weed, they’re doing it because they don’t want to be in pain. “And an extension of that, the people who will be cultivating it for them and preparing their oils and their ointments and stuff to relive their pain, they’re not Tony Montana, they’re not trying to make money out of this enterprise they’re trying to relive the suffering of the people that they love.” […]

Act now before more lives before lives are lost to drugs

The time has come for Victorians to take a stand to prevent serious harm and death from illegal drugs and that’s exactly what Buninyong MP Geoff Howard is doing about pill-testing at events like music festivals. Mr Howard believes pill-testing at events like Rainbow will help prevent hospitalisation or even deaths of people who really don’t know what substances they are putting in their mouths. […]

Government discussions on pill testing long overdue, says MP at Rainbow Serpent

President of Harm Reduction Australia Gino Vumbaca said government and society should not be afraid of the evidence that shows the benefits of pill testing. “We are not condoning drug use, but we are living in the real world,” Vumbaca said. “The pragmatic view is that there will be people who do take drugs and we should minimise the risk that can occur to them. […]

Safe Injection Facilities Save Lives

The evidence for increased safety is compelling. At Insite, a safe-injection site in Vancouver, there was a 35 percent reduction in fatal overdoses in the area around the facility, compared with a 9.3 percent reduction in other parts of the city that may have had other interventions. People who used Insite were also much less likely to share needles than individuals who shot up in unsupervised places. […]

Pill testing push, Vic man still critical

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Premier Andrews needed to “get his head out of the sand” and acknowledge that young people would experiment with drugs. “When Australia was confronted with the HIV epidemic in the ’80s, we were one of the first countries on earth to provide injecting drug users with clean needles,” Senator Di Natale told reporters on Monday. […]

Pill testing is proven. I Am Hardstyle shows how much we need it

This debate has been raging for decades, but the time to act is now. Festival season is in full swing and although the police presence usually verges on the military, with vigorous searches and barking police dogs greeting revellers as they enter, at every festival young people will be taking ecstasy pills and MDMA to enhance their experience. […]

No pill testing: Daniel Andrews stays firm on state policy

Premier Daniel Andrews says he will not reconsider his opposition to recreational drug testing despite a mass overdose on Friday night at a Festival Hall rave. But Yarra Drug and Health Forum executive director and former police officer Greg Denham said drug testing would certainly reduce the risk, particularly when there was a bad batch. […]

8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don’t Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana

The prophets of doom warned of all manner of social ills that would arise if marijuana were legalized. From hordes of dope-addled youths aimlessly wandering the streets to red-eyed carnage on the highway, the divinations were dire. And they were wrong. In a report released Tuesday the Drug Policy Alliance takes a long look at just what has happened in the states have legalized weed. […]

Nine in hospital after suspected drug overdoses at Festival Hall dance party

Victorian Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who has been campaigning for pill testing to be made available at festivals and dance parties, said the overdoses once again highlighted the need for such a service. “What happens in Europe is people can anonymously give over their drugs, they are tested, and then an authority such as the health department or a police department actually issues timely warnings to people so they know that that particular drug is really dangerous.” […]

Warning about elephant sedative drug Carfentanil seized in Canberra

Emergency department doctor David Caldicott, who has been pushing for a drug testing trial in the ACT, said it was another example of how testing of drugs at the point of consumption could save lives. He warned while the best way to avoid harm was to avoid drugs, opioid addicts faced the most risk. […]

We now know sniffer dogs cost NSW more than $9m per

Today we’ve learned the New South Wales police detection dog unit – the largest in the country – costs more than $9 million per year. That’s not including the wages of the 6-12 officers who accompany the dogs on operations. Drug sniffer dogs have long been controversial, but the criticism has mostly focused on whether the dogs are any good at finding drugs, rather than the actual cost of the unit. […]

Norway is aiming to decriminalise drugs. The UK should choose legalisation

In the wake of Norway’s decision to decriminalise drugs, politicians from all parties should use this opportunity to take a different approach to our drug policy. By opting for legalisation, we can take the market out of the hands of criminals and raise some money for treating vulnerable users while we’re at it. […]

Legalising marijuana leads to significant drop in violent crime – study

The introduction of medical marijuana laws in the United States has led to a significant drop in violent crime. The decrease is strongest in areas closest to Mexico, where counties near the border experienced a 12.5 percent drop in violent crime, including murders, robberies and violent assaults.


Philippines: Duterte’s “drug war” claims 12,000+ lives

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “drug war” entered its second year in 2017, resulting in the killing of more than 12,000 drug suspects, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018. Duterte has responded to increased criticism of his anti-drug campaign by impugning, harassing, and threatening critics of the government and human rights defenders. […]

Helen Clark pushes for drug laws to focus on treatment, not punishment

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says people who use drugs are unfairly painted as criminals, and instead wants an evidence-based system based on treatment, social services and safe spaces. Clark is one of several prominent members – including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a dozen former heads of state – of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which advocates for less punitive drug laws. […]

Attitudes drive drug policy, not facts, says Global Commission

Terms such ‘drug user’, ‘drug abuser’, ‘addict’ and ‘junkie’ should be avoided as they are derogatory and dehumanise people who take drugs, fuelling harmful drug policies which affect their health and human rights. These views are voiced in a new report launched on 9 January by the Global Commission on Drug Policy – a leading advocate speaking to the failures of the international drug control regime and the repressive laws it has inspired. […]

New Zealand’s First Cannabis Grower Is Being Considered for Sainthood

Unlike other Europeans who scorned aboriginal medicine in favor of Western medicine, Aubert studied traditional Maori medicine and incorporated it into her healing practice. Aubert also recognized the medicinal properties of cannabis, and is believed to be the first New Zealander to ever cultivate the plant in the country. The prospective saint created numerous medicinal formulations, many of which contained cannabis extracts, and sales of these popular products provided the majority of the income for her convent. […]

US: Going After Weed in the Middle of a Deadly Opioid Crisis Is Insane

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened a new front in the War on Weed, rescinding Obama-era policies that discouraged federal prosecution of pot crimes in legal-weed states. Given that study after study suggests marijuana availability is linked to lower overdose death rates, reduced use of opioids for chronic pain, and lower rates of opioid addiction, a stranger, more ill-advised policy is hard to imagine. […]

The World Drug Perception Problem

The fear of drugs has translated into messages for prevention that promote complete abstinence and state that all drugs are equally bad. However, providing information which is incomplete and often even incorrect lessens any chance of trust between the authorities and young people. A better way forward would be to offer honest information, 9 encourage moderation in youthful experimentation, and provide knowledge on safer practices. […]

There are more positive ways to engage an effective community response to methamphetamine

Why are the local media so interested in publishing stories updating their readership of the latest results of the national methamphetamine wastewater analysis competition? It provides the media with an opportunity to perpetuate the so called “ice epidemic” and associated moral panic. It is worth noting that the ACIC data does not mention cannabis, giving methamphetamine a much higher profile than it deserves. […]

Ineffective drug policies can no longer be ignored

Here is a plan for governments of all persuasions in 2018:

1. Convene a national summit to commit to introducing policies that reduce drug harm.

2. Redirect funding from ineffective policies and practices to those that are effective.

3. Stop criminalising people for the simple act of possessing or using drugs and expunge the existing records of people with such convictions […]

US: Stop Calling it an Opioid Crisis—It’s a Heroin and Fentanyl Crisis

This is a crisis caused by drug prohibition—an unintended consequence of nonmedical drug users accessing the black market in drugs. Policymakers should stop harassing doctors and their patients and shift the focus to reforming overall drug policy. A good place to start would be to implement harm reduction measures, such as safe syringe programs, making Medication Assisted Treatments like methadone and suboxone more readily available, and making the opioid antidote naloxone available over-the-counter, so it can be easier for opioid users to obtain. […]

Hailed NZ needle exchange turns 30

“Needle and syringe programmes are an important harm-reduction intervention,” says Kathryn Leafe, the current executive director of the NZ Needle Exchange Programme. “Harm reduction is based on empathy and a non-judgmental approach, working with people where they are at and however they understand their drug use.” This is the “support don’t punish” model. […]

Why Jeff Sessions’ War on Weed Is a Futile Pursuit

Jeff Sessions is leaving decisions about marijuana enforcement to his U.S. attorneys. They could impose huge disruptions on the legal, regulated marijuana business, which is bad enough, but they can’t bring back pot prohibition. Sessions is fighting a lonely, rear-guard battle not even supported by his own party or the president he serves. […]

Recreational Pot Is Officially Legal in California

Retail cannabis shops in California opened their doors on Monday for the first time, inaugurating what proponents say will become the world’s largest market for legalized recreational marijuana. […]

Interactive Map: Global Drug Policy Developments of 2017

2017 has seen a worsening opioid deaths crisis in North America, egregious brutality against people who use drugs in the Philippines, and the maintaining – or intensification – of prohibitionist drug policies in a number of countries. However, there have also been a range of progressive steps regarding harm reduction, cannabis reform, and more – all around the world. […]

Aus govt key to Bali drug accused’s fate

Melanie O’Brien, of the University of Queensland, says the punishment Roberts will face could come down to negotiations between the Indonesian and Australian governments. Australian traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in 2015, 10 years after their arrest as the ringleaders of a heroin smuggling operation. […]

NZ: Making drugs illegal won’t keep your child safe

This government has an opportunity to take up Peter Dunne’s legacy and move away from the failed prohibition advocated by Brown. Drugs are consumed by the most vulnerable members of our community. We owe them a duty of care. […]

Pill testing in the community?

Australian ecstasy has the highest rate in the world of unexpected ingredients, says drug law reform proponent Shane Rattenbury. Mr Rattenbury recently encouraged colleagues in the ACT’s cabinet to consider pill testing not just at music festivals such as Split Milk, but on an everyday basis within the community. […]

Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies

The report from Mexico’s interior department, the country’s National Women’s Institute and the UN Women agency said the annual femicide rate was 3.8 per 100,000 women in 1985 before it began a steady decline to 1.9 in 2007. From there it rose sharply to peak at 4.6 per 100,000 in 2012, tapering off in the following years and then rising again last year to 4.4. […]

Looking Back: The Biggest Domestic Drug Policy Stories of the Past 20 Year

There are more options for treatment or diversion out of jail or prison, but people are still getting arrested. Sentencing reforms mean some people won’t do as much time as they did in the past, but people are still getting arrested. And the drug war industrial complex, with all its institutional inertia and self-interest, rolls on. […]

Drug expert says Sydney must lift its harm reduction game

As Melbourne prepares for its first trial of a Medically Supervising Injecting Centre (MSIC) next year, Sydney drug treatment expert Dr Alex Wodak AM is urging expanded harm-reduction facilities in this city to counter changes in the drug trade.


Government shelves plans to drug test welfare recipients, citing lack of Senate support

The president of the Australian Medical Association, Michael Gannon, welcomed the change of plan. “This has been tried in other parts of the world. There’s not a scrap of evidence that it reduces drug use in welfare recipients,” Dr Gannon said. “There’s no evidence at all that its useful in helping people get back to work.” […]

The Government Will Ditch Their Shitty Plan To Drug-Test Welfare Recipients

The Turnbull Government‘s really quite bad plan to drug-test young people in low socio-economic areas receiving welfare assistance will be mercifully put on ice, after the embattled Government failed to secure crossbench support for the controversial measures. The plan was bashed from pillar to post by just about every opposing politician, and critically a throng of leading medical and social welfare organisations, under the sun. […]

What goes on inside a medically supervised injection facility?

A medically-supervised injecting centre is a physical space where it’s legal for people who inject drugs to come with pre-obtained substances and inject themselves. The key point is that rather than just being supplied with clean injecting equipment and then sent away to inject elsewhere, people are also provided with a safe space to inject. […]

What Exactly Happened With Aussie Fest Spilt Milk’s Failed Pill Testing Trial?

While it’s a debate that will surely continue for a long time from both sides of the fence, Dr Caldicott’s final point is probably a good summation of the youth vote on the issue, referring to the politicians he believes blocked the trial at this point. “This is a brilliant way of completely distancing yourself from an entire demographic of parents and young people, because it looks ridiculous and it looks foolish and it looks aged.” […]

Controversial drug trial for welfare recipients to be postponed

The trial was to have applied to new welfare recipients from January 1, 2018, but Social Services Minister Christian Porter on Wednesday indicated he was prepared to excise the trial from omnibus welfare legislation so other measures could be approved by Parliament before the end of the year. […]

UK: Durham Police to Stop Prosecuting Low Level Dealers

The controversial plan, coming into effect next month, implies the Durham police will stop prosecuting small dealers, who usually face a minimum of 18 months in prison. Instead they must agree to join a four-month Checkpoint programme that aims to tackle the underlying problems of drug use, such as financial or family problems. […]

Trudeau Plays Trump Foil Again With Critique of Duterte

Trudeau said after a closed-door meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday in Manila that he raised concerns about extrajudicial killings and other alleged abuse associated with the Philippines’ drug war. The exchange came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump sidestepped the issue in his own talks with Duterte on the sidelines of a regional summit. […]

NZ PM – Drug-related killings ‘certainly require investigation’

Ms Ardern said she would urge Mr Duterte to carry out an enquiry into the high numbers of death. “There’ve been various attempts for there to be oversight into some of the executions that have occurred. Our view is that number of deaths certainly requires investigation and oversight, at the very least.” […]

Why ‘Just Say No’ To Drugs Will Never Work

As much as many of us would like to see it become a reality, there will never be a drug-free world. People who use illicit drugs do so for a multitude of complex reasons that appear immune to political interventions and ‘just say no’ slogans. Only by accepting drug use as a reality within our communities can we effectively tackle drug-related harms and ensure both individuals who use drugs, and society more broadly, remains safe and healthy. […]

Moving Away from the War on Drugs: An Interview with Dr Alex Wodak

The critics of harm reduction and drug law reform are old and shrinking in number and influence. In contrast, supporters of harm reduction and drug law reform are young, and growing in number and influence. But every battle is still tough. Ridiculous amounts of time and energy still have to be expended for modest gains. […]

The Mad Merry-Go-Round Of Starving Welfare Recipients Off Drugs

Trials of heroin-assisted treatment in countries like Switzerland have shown that “despite a difficult labour market situation, there was nearly a twofold increase in permanent employment whereas unemployment dropped to less than half.” If the Australian government is really concerned about reducing unemployment of drug dependent welfare recipients it will invest in treatments like these that stabilise lives. […]

Testing welfare recipients for drugs is wrong headed

That’s the thing, the government doesn’t really want to help the unemployed with this plan. That’s not its aim. Its aim is to win the support of those who believe the unemployed have it easy and are getting wasted on the public dime. This policy isn’t about help. It is simply cynical politics. […]

Drug consumption rooms can help reduce the harm caused by addiction

Not only do these spaces save lives, decrease the risk of users contracting HIV and other diseases and clear related paraphernalia from our streets and parks, but they also help people access support services, such a healthcare, housing and benefits. They can help people take the first step in the journey from harmful addiction to a healthier life – specifically because they provide safety from the hard hand of the law, which criminalises drug use. […]

Experts and public disagree over plan to drug-test welfare recipients – polls

HRA president, Gino Vumbaca, said the gulf between expert and public opinion showed the government and media were not properly communicating the complexities of the issue. “[Drug testing] is counter-productive, and that’s what you often find, when you talk to people who actually work in this area with knowledge of the issues,” he told Guardian Australia.  […]

About time: Victorian government’s safe injecting trial will save young lives

The Victorian government’s decision to trial a supervised, safe injecting space for heroin users in inner Melbourne will save lives by preventing overdoses and by putting many addicts on a pathway to recovery. It is a welcome, though lamentably belated, reversal of a policy that has contributed to dozens of needless deaths this year alone in Richmond, where the trial will take place. […]

Melbourne safe injecting room trial set to get the go-ahead

Victoria will trial a safe drug-injecting room in inner Melbourne in a major turnaround for Premier Daniel Andrews, after calls to set up the centre amid a growing heroin crisis in the state. Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley said Cabinet approved the proposal after a review of private members bill and after considering advice from the police, the coroner and community stakeholders. […]

State pumps extra $53 million into rehab as Yarra drug deaths surge

Expectations are growing that a reversal of Labor’s rejection of a safe injecting room in Richmond might be announced any day, with senior ministers who are in favour of the idea growing in confidence. Government sources say emergency and health services have already recorded the number of lives lost to drugs in the council area so far in 2017 at 34 “and climbing”. […]