It’s undeniable that the ‘war on drugs’ has comprehensively failed. It has failed parents, families, young people, and it has failed the taxpayer. We need to change course urgently. If we are serious about saving lives we have to get serious about harm reduction. In order to help drug users, their families and the wider community we need to take drug use out of the shadows and avoid moralistic reactions. Admittedly, there is no silver bullet or perfect remedy, but there are tested and proven drug policies based on reducing harm and minimising risk that treat drug use within a health and social framework instead of stigmatising and criminalising people who use drugs. The first step towards this change will be admitting that the prohibitionist and punitive ‘law and order’ model isn’t working.
Dr Mehreen Faruqi is a Greens MP in the NSW Parliament and the Drugs and Harm Minimisation Spokesperson.