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Drug-Taking is Inevitable at Festivals, So We Must Focus On Keeping People Safe

For too long, the debate around regulating recreational drug culture has been driven by those removed from its epicentre, albeit with clear concern for those at risk – politicians, law enforcement, parents of drug users, or even services seeking to minimise associated harm. As it becomes increasingly critical to explore new approaches focusing on harm reduction, we need to stop judging other people’s choices if we are to help them stay safe. […]

Why We Shouldn’t Drug Test Poor People

The results are resoundingly clear: Drug testing is costly, invasive and ineffective. In recent years, seven US states with drug-testing programs have spent over $1 million, only to find that in six of them, fewer than 1 percent of beneficiaries tested positive, compared with about 10 percent of the general population. […]

Why opioid deaths are this generation’s Aids crisis

Drug users have long been one of the most demonised and marginalised groups in society – and a low priority for policymakers. This simply can’t continue. A public health crisis and loss of life on the scale currently being witnessed warrants an immediate, and unapologetically progressive response. […]

Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it’s failing for marijuana

The abolition of anti-pot laws wouldn’t induct us into the Age of Aquarius. As we’ve seen in America, it’s actually a pretty small step – but it might spare a few kids from the brutality of the prison system, while freeing up resources that could be put to better use elsewhere.  […]

Medical cannabis workshop: ‘incredibly cumbersome’ to get drugs to patients

David Caldicott, a senior medical lecturer at Australian National University told Guardian Australia there was a lack of clarity among both doctors and patients due to confusing government frameworks. “If you go to different states in Australia you see very different responses. It is still incredibly cumbersome to get drugs to patients. […]

Drug Addicts, Alcoholics To Be Denied Disability Pension Under New Government Rules

Federal parliament will debate whether people with a disability caused by drug or alcohol use should receive government pensions, in the latest controversial welfare clampdown to attract outrage from social agencies. Numerous welfare and social groups have voiced their outrage over the measure, saying it unfairly targets and marginalises people who struggle with addiction and serious substance abuse issues. […]

Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana

A decree issued by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto today confirmed that Mexico has legalized cannabis for medicinal use after overwhelming support from Mexico’s Lower House of Congress. […]

Tough response to ice ‘failing’: Palmer

Mick Palmer, who served as AFP commissioner from 1994 to 2001, says approaching ice use as social and health problem rather than a law enforcement issue would be more effective in curbing use and supply. “The whole aim of our illicit drug policy at the moment is harm minimisation. We’ve done nothing to minimise harm over 40 or 50 years, in fact in many ways we aggravate it,” he said ahead of a public forum in Brisbane on Wednesday. […]

Queensland’s prison policy is ‘stupid’, says former chief as he calls for drugs rethink

Queensland’s “stupid” rate of incarceration should push the state government towards legalising recreational drug supply, a former state jails boss has said. Keith Hamburger also hopes the Palaszczuk government will embrace proposals for Aboriginal-owned “rehabilitation healing” centres for Indigenous offenders, of whom there are “probably 1,000” now in jail who “don’t need to be in there”. […]

Victoria Applauded for Refusing Plan to Drug Test Welfare Recipients

VCOSS CEO Emma King told Pro Bono News “nobody with heart” could support the policy. “We applaud the Victorian Government refusal to play the Commonwealth’s cruel game,” King said. “Drug testing and then punishing vulnerable job seekers will neither find them a job nor help them get off drugs. […]

Colombia ignores US pressure to return to aerial fumigation of coca

Colombia’s government dismissed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s claim that “it is necessary to resume fumigation” of coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, reported newspaper El Tiempo. Disregarding Tillerson’s opinion, the Colombian government is bound to the peace deal that allows the spraying of chemicals only as a last resort and has no intention of changing the crop substitution strategy. […]

Welfare Drug Testing Will Ruin Recovering Addicts Like Me

When I heard Scott Morrison’s announcement, I thought, Well, that’s welfare done. I guess I’ll be avoiding it altogether. And I know that others like me, too, will feel that burn. Maybe that’s what some people hope will happen—for “dole bludging drug addicts” to be punished. But a welfare system that penalises addicts for lapsing is one that fundamentally misunderstands addiction. […]

Drug experts at Curtin University claim drug tests at festivals would save lives

The National Drug Research Institute says a trial of “sensible, contained and targeted drug-checking services” at Australia’s music festivals is “much-needed”. But the Curtin University-based group said this would only happen if political leaders “instruct health and law enforcement to work together and make it happen”. […]

Music festivals told by health officials to offer drug testing so users can assess the strength of illegal narcotics

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said testing facilities should be ‘standard’ at festivals so revellers can assess the strength and content of the drugs they are considering taking. Drug safety testing pilots at the Secret Garden Party and Kendall Calling festivals last summer, with the support of local police and public health officials, reduced the amount of potentially harmful substances circulating on site, RSPH said. […]

Australia Is Lagging Behind On Safe Injecting Rooms And It’s Killing People

No one in the field is claiming that MSICs will solve the state’s drug problem — the coroner’s report explicitly said they were not the “silver bullet” — but when displayed alongside the state’s other harm minimisation policies centred on drug use, it would seem surely seem like a natural step? […]

Uruguay, the first country where you can smoke marijuana wherever you like

“South America’s war against drugs has been absurd, with catastrophic results no matter which indicators you consider, including consumption. If Uruguay’s experience turns out positive, it will be easier for other countries such as Colombia or Mexico, mired in huge problems with powerful narcos, to find a better solution than the disastrous one implemented so far.”

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Government Paper Says Welfare Drug Tests ‘Ought Not Be Considered’

“Whilst it is understandable why some might presume that drug testing is a useful strategy, it is high in cost, may have unintended adverse outcomes, and raises serious ethical and legal issues,” the paper said. “Its drawbacks may be addressed, at least in part, if it is clearly demonstrated that drug testing effectively meets its aims and reduces risk. […]

Australia ‘deserves better’ than US-style drug testing of welfare recipients

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the US experience showed drug testing welfare recipients was not effective. “Looking overseas, what is becoming clear is the drug testing policy is introduced or proposed for purely political reasons, as a way of saying to voters ‘we are taking action on drug use’, Australia deserves better than this, we need evidence-based policy,” Siewert said. […]

WA medics call for decriminalisation of drugs

Drug possession for personal use should be decriminalised in WA, says the State’s peak doctors group, which is calling for a radical new approach to the war on drugs. Australian Medical Association WA president Dr Andrew Miller said it was time for a public debate on whether drug abuse should be treated as a health issue instead of a law and order problem. […]

Ottawa approves 3 supervised injection sites for B.C., 1 in Montreal

The new round of approvals brings the number of federally sanctioned sites to nine, significantly expanding what was once a radical intervention limited to a single location in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Such facilities, run by local health agencies, allow users to consume illicit drugs in the presence of health workers who can intervene in the event of an overdose. […]

Brazil: No Humanity in São Paulo’s Violent Crackdown on Cracolândia

Videos and recounts of the crackdown are horrific: 900 militarized police officers viciously stormed through the area, arresting people suspected of using drugs. They evicted people who had been accessing voluntary treatment services, destroyed tents and temporary housing that had become people’s homes, and even blocked health professionals from providing relief to those harmed in the operation. […]

Russia and Ukraine: Annexation Symptoms

Russia’s abrupt, public shutdown of substitution therapy in Crimea in 2014 is one of the oddest and cruellest stories of the annexation. Russia claimed it incorporated the peninsula to protect local Russian-speakers from what it called a nationalist, fascist government that had come to power after months of demonstrations in Kiev forced President Yanukovych to flee. […]

The Left/Right Challenge To The Failed “War On Drugs”

The argument to criminalize “street drugs,” and severely punish their sellers and users, is largely based on the assumption that a “tough on crime” approach will reduce addiction and abuse of these dangerous substances. Criminalizing drug use consistently fails to address the health problems of addiction, and drives the drug trade underground where crime, violence and death flourish. […]

US: It’s time to kick our addiction to the war on drugs

There’s a better way. It’s called harm reduction. This approach focuses on reducing the negative effects of drug use rather than on punishing people who use drugs in an often-futile attempt to make them stop. Harm reduction options like supervised injection facilities or drug consumption rooms have successfully prevented fatal overdoses and connected people to treatment in cities such as Vancouver, Sydney, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Zurich; there are 74 official drug consumption facilities in Europe alone. […]

People who use drugs may use cannabis and drug cocktails as a form of harm reduction

People who use drugs have come up with innovative strategies that help them reduce harm, including using marijuana to decrease crack use and mixing heroin with methamphetamine to moderate the effects of meth or prolong the duration of heroin’s effects, according to presentations at the 25th International Harm Reduction Conference (HR17) last week in Montréal. […]

Meet the Woman Testing Drugs at This Summer’s UK Festivals

The ink hasn’t quite dried on all the contracts, but the Loop will be providing drug testing at four or five commercial festivals. Add up all the guests at these events, and Fiona Measham believes some 500,000 people will have access to a potentially lifesaving service. All this is a result of consultations with police and local authorities, as opposed to government officials, with permission being granted at a local rather than national level. […]

Drug plan based on stigma not love

It is abundantly clear that the aim is not to “stabilise lives and encourage people to participate in treatment”. If the Turnbull government genuinely wanted to help people into treatment it would direct what will undoubtedly be the very high costs of this program towards treatment. […]

Drug testing could have catastrophic consequences for welfare recipients

Targeting and excluding people who use drugs is a terrible response to what is at its core a public health issue. This idea rests on the discredited view that illicit drug use is a “moral evil” as opposed to something 42 per cent of Australians have done at least once, and that getting tough is the appropriate response. […]

Supervised Drug-Injection Sites Are Spreading in Canada

Some segment of the population is going to be injecting drugs: Do you want them doing it in a safe, clinical setting, or in a park? Stigmatizing a problem and driving it into the darkness only exacerbates it — which is why cities like Montreal should be applauded for taking a more thoughtful approach, even if it might seem a bit counterintuitive at first. […]

Drug testing could have catastrophic consequences for welfare recipients

Scott Morrison’s federal budget has declared yet another “war on drugs”, announcing 5000 new welfare recipients will be required to undergo drug testing. Let’s be clear, there is no evidence these measures, which would target some of society’s most vulnerable people, would have any social benefit. […]

Any dignity left down the toilet

If a North Shore mum had to give a drug test before she claimed Family Tax Benefit Part B, Sunrise and Mamamia would be calling for Malcolm Turnbull’s head, but when it is just the dole bludgers everyone seems kind of cool with it. […]

Telegraph exploits man and exposes Australia’s failed and futile drug policy

If Australia had started a quarter century ago reforming its drug laws and carrying out a heroin trial, the bedraggled man in the photograph may well by now have been leading a normal and useful life, looking after his family, working for a living and paying his share of taxes. The exploitation of the man in the Daily Telegraph photo perpetuates the marginalisation of people who use drugs and further limits drug policy debate in Australia. […]

Drug-testing will demonise Australians on welfare, experts say

Welfare advocates say the Coalition’s plan to drug-test welfare recipients undermines the fabric of Australia’s needs-based safety net, while drug experts are warning the trial could have “unintended consequences” on those in the throes of addiction, including driving them into criminality. […]

Drug Testing The Dole Queue Won’t Help Make It Shorter

Until drug use is truly seen as a health issue and not one to be addressed via punitive measures, the stigma, discrimination, isolation and helplessness will remain. This program will not result in helping people but rather increase their likelihood of moving into a life of crime and homelessness. […]

UN expert in PH: Punitive measures worsen drug problem

“Badly thought-out policies,” Agnes Callamard said, not only fail to address the problem of illegal drugs but “compound” them. The “compounded” problems include killings, criminal gangs, breakdown of the rule of law, vigilante crimes, illegal detention of suspects, among others, Callamard said […]

Underground Pill Testing

We collected data on what we tested, what we found and what people said they were going to do with that information. It is hoped that releasing this will show that this practice has a tangible public health benefit, to show that individuals or groups can help keep themselves, their crew and the people around them safe. […]

Punter plans pill testing outside Canberra Groovin after ACT inaction

The unemployed 22-year-old has been buying chemicals online with money from his mum and plans to provide DIY reagent kits to punters heading to the Canberra leg of Groovin on the weekend. He’s posted a mobile number on his Facebook page and is asking punters who want to test their drugs to contact him in the lead up to the event. […]

ACT’s drug-testing trial could help end decades of backward policing

The arguments supporting pill testing are persuasive and are often made by health and law enforcement advocates with decades of relevant experience. Unfortunately, parliamentary politics is primarily focused on winning the next election. It can also be about threading effective policies through the political maze, while still surviving politically. As European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said recently: “We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it!” […]

Why not decriminalize drug use?

Vice President Leni Robredo suggested on Friday that the Philippines look to the example of Portugal, which made the radical decision of decriminalizing drug use in 2001, leading to lower drug-related deaths and declines in drug abuse among its citizens. […]

New report: Decriminalise drug use for a better society

A groundbreaking report was released last month on the future of drug policy in Australia. The report, Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely? openly acknowledged the failure of Australia’s punitive drug policies and called for a steady path towards decriminalisation. […]

Push to undo hash ban in Nepal

Activists say that legalising marijuana will help patients to get high quality cannabis for their conditions, and by regulating the drug, the government can keep a tab on the criminality associated with it. […]

Pill testing could have saved my son’s life.

“Even though most people are for it, and we have the technology, pill testing is a topic no politician is brave enough to talk about. So it’s still illegal in Australia and people like my son continue to die,” says Adriana Buccianti. […]

Ice and Busts: The Lost War on Drugs in Australia

The ministers traffic in votes and illusions, and finding drugs provides a false incentive for both. What is needed, as The Age editorial surmised in November last year, is a policy “in favour of a harm minimisation strategy based on decriminalisation, regulation and education.” Paramilitary approaches should be ditched, and resources channeled into health. […]

Australia’s ice plan ‘failing’: expert

The federal government has invested $300 million into ice education and rehabilitation but Dr Wodak, a former director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, argues a more progressive policy is needed. “I’m not suggesting for a minute that we take money off law enforcement but we need to put serious money into prevention”. […]

Heroin made life bearable – at the same time as it nearly killed me

Trauma, mental ill-health, housing insecurity, poverty and so on are not the fault of the individual in a society increasingly aware of how many people are left behind and ignored in the minority’s pursuit of wealth. They do increase the attraction of drugs that can numb the severity of bitter reality. […]

Richmond’s heroin problem has gone from tragic to absurd

Thirty-four people died in my neighbourhood last year from overdoses that might have been avoided by providing drug users with a place that is carefully monitored by staff and social workers so they can inject with sterile equipment and dispose of needles safely instead of accidental overdoses occurring and syringes ending up in our streets. […]

South Africa High Court Just Legalized Private Cannabis Use

In a landmark ruling this morning, the Western Cape High Court in South Africa ruled that keeping weed illegal is unconstitutional. The decision marks a significant change in South Africa’s cannabis laws, effectively legalizing private cannabis use. […]

Why it’s important to just say no to bad drug policy

We should just say no to antiquated, ineffective and regressive strategies and policies for drug misuse prevention, and to demonizing complicated behaviors that are often initiated out of trauma, for capital gains in the prison system. Sessions, it seems, wants to further stigmatize and criminalize trauma. To this, I just say no. […]

Drug Decriminalization Conversation Ramps Up In Australia

Mick Palmer spent decades locking up drug users, first as a policeman and eventually as the head of the Australian Federal Police. Now, Palmer—along with other law enforcement officers and politicians—is calling for the widespread decriminalization of drugs in Australia in order to turn the tide against a drug enforcement policy that has been shown not to work. […]

Former premiers and Australian police chiefs call for drug decriminalisation

The report, entitled “Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?”, makes 13 recommendations around minimising drug-related harm and the burden on the criminal justice system. Among them are reducing and, where possible, eliminating penalties for possession and use; expanding health and social assistance for young people struggling with drug addiction; and undermining the black market with a regulated “white” market. […]

Drugs: The big win that proves we lose

Since Mokbel was jailed, the flow of drugs has only grown. He brought them in by containers; now syndicates have their own ships. He was a smart local entrepeneur; now Australia is targeted by international cartels, well aware we pay the highest prices in the world. The truth is we are worse off now than when Mokbel was grabbed 10 years ago.  […]

As police admit to losing battle, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Alex Wodak calls for ice ingestion rooms

As State Government officials tour the state for a series of Ice Taskforce roundtables, people at the frontline of the Australia’s ice epidemic have told the Sunday Mail the police-based “war on drugs” approach is failing. Instead, they say a greater focus on health services, funding for treatment programs and “safe use” information is the key to beating the ice scourge that has gripped many parts of SA. […]

An Interview with Ethan Nadelmann

(W)ho are the drug reform movement? We’re people who love drugs, people who hate drugs, and we’re the people who don’t give a damn about drugs. But every one of us believes that the war on drugs is not the right way to deal with it. And that weaving together of a movement is the thing that I’ve (…) taken the greatest pleasure and pride in. […]

United Nations drugs board slams killings in Philippines

In a new annual report, the INCB says ‘extrajudicial action, purportedly taken in pursuit of drug control objectives, is fundamentally contrary to the provisions and objectives’ of international drug conventions. […]

Duterte’s war on drugs riddled with corruption: Human rights group

A Human Rights Watch report released on Wednesday (Mar 3) stated that the police and gangs or vigilantes are often one and the same. The report said: “In several cases we investigated, the police dismissed allegations of involvement and instead classified such killings as ‘found bodies’ or ‘deaths under investigation’ when only hours before the suspects had been in police custody.” […]

Yes, we can do on-the-spot drug testing quickly and safely

Drug testing at music festivals is very much about intervention and encouraging behavioural changes, rather than just drily delivering a result. We know from research that the majority of consumers would not take a pill if test results indicated the substance wasn’t what they thought it was. […]

Why there’s no legal barrier to a Melbourne drug injecting room, despite political setback

Such facilities are often a gateway for connecting marginalised and disadvantaged people to vital health care and other support services. This includes, for those who want it, alcohol and drug treatment services. Most importantly, supervised drug injection facilities around the world have prevented many fatal drug overdoses. And Sydney’s Medically Supervised Injecting Centre has overseen nearly one million injections and managed over 6,000 overdoses without a single death. […]

The ‘War On Drugs’ Has Been A Deadly Failure

There will be more deaths in the months to come, and as the disparity between expert recommendation and government action becomes more apparent, so will the anger of (voting) parents and loved ones. And every time there is another tragic, unnecessary loss of a precious, precious young Australian, those who stand in the way of what the health community is demanding — now — need to take a long hard look at themselves. […]

Viewing addiction as a brain disease promotes social injustice

An insidious assumption of the diseased brain theory is that any use of certain drugs is considered pathological, even the non-problematic, recreational use that characterizes the experience of the overwhelming majority who ingest these drugs. For example, in a popular US anti-drug campaign, it is implied that one hit of methamphetamine is enough to cause irrevocable damage […]

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte Wants to Expand His Deadly Drug War to 9-Year-Olds

Duterte is looking to ramp things up further by lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 all the way down to 9. A bill that would do just that was actually introduced right around the time he was sworn in, and one of its co-authors says he expects it to be approved by the nation’s congress within the next six months. […]

‘Ice Wars’ message is overblown and unhelpful

Fear drives poor policy, policy that focuses on “crackdowns”, “zero tolerance” and scare campaigns. None of these things is effective. We know what reduces drug related harms in the community is a focus on support, on keeping people alive and on access to treatment. […]

Melbourne could open drug injecting room like Kings Cross

“If you have problematic injecting drug use and a number of people are requiring ambulance attendance because of overdose and a number of people are dying of accidental overdose and discarded equipment is in the streets, there’s public use going on and the local business community and local residents are sick of that and you’re lucky enough to have local police and council to support you, you tell me what the evidence based reasoning is not to open a proven service.” […]