Monday, 28 July 2008

Remembering Bronwyn Bishop

This document is full of harm minimisation. The Prime Minister said that he is opposed to harm minimisation and that we do not have it.

-Bronwyn Bishop

Australia had once led the world when it came to drug policy because of Harm Minimisation(HM). Although HM has been our official policy since 1985 it has had it’s share of critics, especially lately. Probably the most interesting aspect of this government initiative is the lack of understanding from the government itself. Steve Cananne from radio station, JJJ highlighted this so well in a short video documentary last year which exposed the then current government as not even acknowledging our own drug policy and knowing even less about it. 

The following links are to the short documentary and the full interview with Bronwyn Bishop who chaired the House Families Committee’s inquiry into the impact of illicit drug use on families titled, “The Winnable War on Drugs”. This interview is the epitome of Zero Tolerance rhetoric from a government caught up in ideology but more importantly how intensely idiotic and deceitful politicians can be to push their narrow minded views onto the public. Watch as Bronwyn Bishop tries to explain her reasoning behind the report and note the political manoeuvring that is as cringe worthy as watching an episode of The Office or Some Mother Do Have ‘Em.

JJJ - "War on Drugs"

JJJ - Interview with Bronwyn Bishop

STOP. If you haven’t watched them, go back and click on the links ... you will regret it if you don’t.

During the interview, Bronwyn Bishop talks about a huge advertising campaign along the lines of the AIDS Grim Reaper ad. She also throws in the Faces of Meth campaign by the  Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Below is an example of the campaign.

...we have an obligation to have a major advertising campaign, a bit like the Grim Reaper, to tell people what it does to you. Pictures that show what drugs do to you: the rotting teeth, the ageing face, the haggard look, the bone disintegration.

-Bronwyn Bishop

Politicians love fear tactics and BB is no exception. People already know the dangers with drugs but many also don’t believe government spin. BB keeps mentioning the “drug elite” are involved in “old thinking” with Harm Minimisation. This is just a new tactic of Zero Tolerance zealots to use the arguments of HM supporters and switch it around. In fact BB’s suggestions are “old thinking”, not HM which continues to expand and try new evidence based strategies whilst Zero Tolerance policies have been tried over and over but somehow expecting different results.

This report is very specific about what needs to be done to prevent harm—not just to reduce it or minimise it but to prevent it, with the ultimate aim of always making the individual drugfree and not sentenced to a lifetime of methadone, which will probably take 46 years off your life expectancy, and not turned into a hag with their teeth falling out. If you think the mouth of a tobacco-smoking person is hideous,look at the mouth of a methadone user.

-Bronwyn Bishop.

Bronwyn Bishop’s handling of the “The Winnable War on Drugs” committee was disgraceful and deceitful. She stacked the committee with DFA members and was so arrogantly biased from the beginning that I am surprised someone didn’t punch her. The junk science was laid on by the truck full and her opinion kept over riding anyone who disagreed with her. The rhetoric was thick in the air and the use of sound bite type statements was pathetic. “Think of the children”, “the ruined families”, “drug users look disgusting” and more. She put down any expert who was not of the Zero Tolerance view and her incredible lack of knowledge was backed up by members of the committee who were just as rude and aggressive.

Inquiry - Monday, 28 May 2007

Dr Herron: ... I went through that era—I never inhaled—when cannabis was thought to be harmless and useful and all the rest of it. It was the general consensus in the hippie era that that was so. Now, it has taken years—a bit like cigarette-smoking; it took 50 years for cigarette-smoking.

Bronwyn Bishop: But it is not like cigarette smoking, John.

Dr Herron: No, I am saying the deleterious effects of cigarette-smoking took 50 years to be enacted in legislation.

Bronwyn Bishop: Yes, but do not compare the two, because I have never seen anyone commit an act of violence under the influence of tobacco.

Bronwyn Bishop is a well known bigot especially when it comes to Muslims. Her attempt to ban headscarves was even rejected by John Howard but that didn’t stop BB from slipping in a racist comment when she could.

Bronwyn Bishop: Harm minimisation has come to mean different things to different people.

Dr Herron: That is correct.

Bronwyn Bishop: It is a bit like the term ‘multiculturalism’ I suppose. It is ruining people’s lives.

Bronwyn Bishop and her Islam phobia:

In August 2005, Bishop called for Muslim headscarves to be banned from public schools, an opinion also expressed by another prominent Liberal backbencher, Sophie Mirabella. The Prime Minister, John Howard, said that he did not agree with this view as a ban would be impractical. Her preoccupation with criticising Islam in Australia has been criticised as racist, sexist and hypocritical.[3] In November 2005, Bishop expressed the view that "she is opposed to the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, where it does not form part of the school uniform. This is because that in most cases the headscarf is being worn as a sign of defiance and difference between non Muslim and Muslim students" and then went on to say that she "does not believe that a ban on the Jewish skull cap is necessary, because people of the Jewish faith have not used the skull cap as a way of campaigning against the Australian culture, laws and way of life."


Lost in the world of Zero Tolerance is blissful ignorance. Politically it’s too hard to take the advice of expert groups or follow the science. Bronwyn Bishop is a political animal with no conscience or ethics. She will happily deceive the public to get her agenda in motion, whether it’s correct or not.

Addiction alone should determine whether a child is separated from their parent

-Bronwyn Bishop

Science does not allow for ideology to take over and someone’s personal views cannot alter facts ... unless your a politician it seems. This has never been about the welfare of addicts but how it fits in with the government’s “family values” spin. One of the successes of HM is the separation of science and morality which allows research and facts to determine treatment. It’s a real twist when a government committee can be formed on the basis that contradicts this, defeating the very element that gives it success.

The aim should be to make the individual drug-free. We have found those in the drug industry take an amoral stance; they say that by harm minimisation the question of morality is out of the equation and they make no judgment as to whether drugs are good or bad.

-Bronwyn Bishop

Bronwyn Bishop is disgusting, rude, bigoted and deceitful. How someone like her can be a representative of our society raises many questions. Personally she makes me squirm and I wonder how she can go on each day with no remorse. I have brought this up before that people in a position of trust, who play with people’s lives for the sake of political or personal gain should be made to face a court of humanity. If John Howard had been returned to office and her idiotic report had been taken up, the damage to people’s lives and the deaths caused would never be attributed to her, even though she purposely overlooked scientific evidence and factual research. If society was fair, dangerous politicians like Bronwyn Bishop, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Ann Bressington, Nicola Roxon, Chris Pyne, Fred Nile etc. would be serving jail time for crimes against humanity. Instead they continue to gain personally from playing political chess with drug addicts lives and the experts who are trying to help.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cannabis is OK - The Debate is Over

OK, it’s time to end this debate, once and for all.

• Cannabis Is Relatively Harmless

• Harsh Laws Do Not Work

• Potency Increases Are A Myth

This is scientific fact and there is evidence to back it up. If you disagree, you are wrong ... simple. There, now I have said it. End of discussion, final, it’s over, no buts about it, just accept it. There has to be a cut off point somewhere and I am declaring it now. How much more evidence can be produced as we are already just repeating the same studies? What? So you have read differently? What you have read is wrong or it has been manipulated to suit the agenda of the writer. Go back and reread it. Am I wrong? No, I’m not but don’t take my word for it, read the evidence below.

EMCDDA have produced a 700 page report about cannabis. The two-volume report aims to provide an authoritative reference work on scientific research, legislation and policy issues associated with the drug in Europe.

A cannabis reader: global issues and local experiences [read]

EMCDDA, Lisbon, June 2008

Cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in Europe, but it can also be a major source of division and debate among politicians, scientists, police, professionals and citizens

As a result the public faces a daily flow of information on cannabis, some of it well-founded, but some of it militant and at times misleading.

The report is designed as a guide to inform research, debate and policymaking on the substance.

-Wolfgang Goetz. Director - EMCDDA

My worry is that even all of the evidence in this article will not influence those of the Zero Tolerance / prohibitionist view point. We have seen the Reefer Madness propaganda campaigns in the US and the junk science reports coming out lately at amazing rates but these approaches seem to catch the public eye. Whilst there has been ample reports in the media about the relative safety of cannabis for the last 30 years, it’s the alarmist viewpoints that have dominated especially recently. Supposed legitimate organisations have put out many statements that are simply wrong or purposely misleading. Such organisations as the US Drug Czar’s office, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOCD) are notorious for deceitful practices and they influence most of the world’s drug policies.

Locally, Australia is also guilty of mass propaganda against cannabis with the government probably the biggest offender. Given the influence of the religious right and hard core prohibition supporting journalists, our government is prepared to follow the populist route and mislead the public. Then we have our friends, Drug Free Australia (DFA) who are funded by us, the tax payer to lie and ignore real evidence with religo-psyco babble and family values rhetoric.

All that is history now as I have declared the debate is over. Evidence has won out and the Disneyland morals brigade have lost. After you have read the EMCDDA 700 page report, read it again and then read on below for some more research that show up the anti-cannabis extremists as the liars that they are.

Cannabis Safer Than Alcohol Or Tobacco, Says Study

Irish Examiner

June 2008

CANNABIS is less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, according to a major review published by the EU drugs agency.

The report said most users cease smoking cannabis by their late 20s or early 30s and that the vast majority did not experience any negative effects.

“On every comparison of dangerousness we have considered, cannabis is at or near the bottom in comparison with other psychoactive substances,” said author Robin Room, in an analysis contained in a 700-page EU report on cannabis.

The report, A Cannabis Reader: Global Issues and Local Experiences, was published yesterday by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction to coincide with international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Mr Room examined a range of research on the health effects of legal and illegal drugs, which compared the substances based on dangerousness or harm, degree of intoxication and dependence. These found:

* Harm: Ecstasy and cocaine highest, followed by alcohol and heroin, with cannabis lowest.

* Intoxication: Alcohol highest, heroin next, then cocaine, cannabis fourth.

* Dependence: Tobacco highest, heroin second, cocaine third, alcohol fourth and cannabis lowest.

The study follows a report this week by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, which highlighted sharp rises in cannabis use in many parts of Ireland.

Mr Room said a report by the French Roques committee divided the effects of drugs between general toxicity — involving direct health damage — and “social dangerousness”, with criminal and other behaviour resulting.

It rated cannabis as “very weak” in terms of toxicity and “weak” in terms of social dangerousness.

In comparison, alcohol was rated “strong” for both, with tobacco “very strong” and “none” respectively.

Heroin was rated “strong” (except for medical doses) for toxicity and “very strong” for social dangerousness. Cocaine was also rated “strong” and “very strong”.

Mr Room said the current international restrictions on cannabis were “too harsh”, compared with the greatly under-regulated systems for alcohol and tobacco.

In a separate analysis on the health impact of cannabis, researcher John Witton concluded: “Most cannabis users cease smoking cannabis by their late 20s or early 30s and the vast majority do not experience any adverse effects.”

He said a minority continue their use and that long-term heavy users reported negative health effects.

Forum: Decriminalization Of Cannabis

Wim van den Brink

Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research Academic Medical Center,

University of Amsterdam Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Conclusion :

This paper has shown that cannabis use is not without risks, that criminalization is an expensive strategy involving considerable policing, prosecution and a fair amount of incarceration, that decriminalization does not result in lower prices and higher consumption rates, nor in more severe patterns of cannabis use, that prohibition and criminalization are associated with social harms to the cannabis user, that decriminalization may reduce the association between cannabis use and schizophrenia and between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs, and that criminalization may reduce the legitimacy of the judicial system.

What are the implications of these conclusions for the debate on criminalization versus decriminalization? Evaluation of prevention strategies, including national drug policies, should be subject to the normal conventions of health technology assessment; that is, it should be evidence-based, cost-effective, acceptable to the public receiving it and not generate substantial collateral harms. It seems not very likely that a more vigorous criminal-jusitice-based approach would fulfil these criteria.

A further decriminalization combined with quality control, price measures including taxation, primary and secondary prevention of use and harm reduction through age restrictions and limitations of the number of cannabis retail outlets may postpone early onset of cannabis use and stabilize or even reduce cannabis consumption rates.

Finally, low-threshold and free-of-charge treatment facilities are needed for those who – despite preventive actions – develop physical or mental health problems. Given the available scientific data, existing repressive, expensive and unsuccessful criminal justice policies should be replaced by humane, effective and more efficient health policies such as those currently implemented in many of the European countries, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain and many others.

Cannabis Potency And Contamination: A Review Of The Literature

-National Center for Biotechnology Information

-Addiction Journal


Aims: Increased potency and contamination of cannabis have been linked in the public domain to adverse mental health outcomes. This paper reviews the available international evidence on patterns of cannabis potency and contamination and potential associated harms, and discusses their implications for prevention and harm reduction measures.

Methods: A systematic literature search on cannabis potency and contamination was conducted.

Results: Cannabis samples tested in the United States, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Italy have shown increases in potency over the last 10 years. Some countries have not shown significant increases in potency, while other countries have not monitored potency over time. While there are some grounds to be concerned about potential contaminants in cannabis, there has been no systematic monitoring.

Conclusion: Increased potency has been observed in some countries, but there is enormous variation between samples, meaning that cannabis users may be exposed to greater variation in a single year than over years or decades. Claims made in the public domain about a 20- or 30-fold increase in cannabis potency and about the adverse mental health effects of cannabis contamination are not supported currently by the evidence. Systematic scientific testing of cannabis is needed to monitor current and ongoing trends in cannabis potency, and to determine whether cannabis is contaminated. Additionally, more research is needed to determine whether increased potency and contamination translates to harm for users, who need to be provided with accurate and credible information to prevent and reduce harms associated with cannabis use.

Jennifer McLaren - National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia,

Wendy Swift - National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia,,

Paul Dillon - National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia

Steve Allsop - National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Australia

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Questioning Christian Behaviour at Beyond 2008

Last week at a drug policy strategy conference for NGO’s worldwide, Drug Free Australia (DFA) secretary, Gary Christian raised the hairs on some necks when he made an unplanned speech criticising the selection process. Some delegates were offended and many complained about Christian’s embarrassing behaviour which left the Australian and New Zealand delegation dumbfounded.

Is success of the conference being overshadowed by this selfish behaviour? The next few weeks will tell.

The United Nations are currently preparing a 10 year review of the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) which dealt with international drug issues. Next year, the Commission of Narcotic Drugs will meet in Vienna to present it’s findings and prepare policy for the following 10 years. This meeting is unique as it will be considering for the first time, the views of non-government organisations (NGOs), who recently met to prepare their strategy. The participants in the “Beyond 2008” NGOs Forum, included 13 consultations in all 9 regions of the world and involving over 500 NGOs from 116 countries and 65 international NGOs.

The conference was a success and a Beyond 2008 declaration was produced which encouraged the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to dramatically change their approach especially concerning the human rights of drug users. The focus was on evidence based policies and consideration for the well being of those inflicted with drug addiction. Our regional delegation had 18 delegates representing 42 NGO’s from Australia.

Unfortunately, some of the US delegates upset the flow of proceedings by intervening and demanding that certain terminology not be used. These groups who oppose Harm Minimisation, now refer to it as “harm maximisation” and they regularly interjected when it was mentioned that current drug policies were causing damage to society or harming drug users. The general conclusion that tough drug policies were not working or the suggestion that drug users had valuable input was also met with objections and unnecessary delays. Incidentally, one of these groups was the US Drug Czar’s office who were not even an NGO and yet were seen to be the key trouble maker and led the interruptions and delays at the conference. 

Although 20% of all delegates were from the US, only a minority reflected the hard-line views of the US government. Ms June Sivilli from the US Drug Czar’s office appeared to be directing the interventions of these extremist and often mean-spirited US delegates.

The flagrant involvement of a government official in the operation of this NGO conference breached the meeting’s rationale. Some US-based anti-drug delegates intervened frequently to obstruct and delay proceedings, reject any suggestion that current drug policies cause any harm, oppose references in the text to 'harm reduction' or participation of people who use drugs in the policy making process.

-Dr. Alex Wodak. Australian Delegate.

But the worst was yet to come when on the final night before the closing ceremony, Gary Christian from Drug Free Australia (DFA) decided he wanted to stop proceedings and give a long, drawn out and unplanned speech. To the shook and dismay of the entire conference, Christian started criticising the selection process although he had been involved in that very process for several months. It seems that the outcome from the majority of the attendees was not to his liking and the DFA ideology was not popular amongst his peers except for some US delegates who heavily supported Zero Tolerance. Several tables were upset and jeered Christian who claimed to represent some participating groups who knew nothing of the speech he was giving. From some reports, I have heard that Christian made a complete fool of himself and lowered the integrity of DFA.

The Australian organisers, The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) received many complaints as did the the Beyond 2008 organisers. The ANCD has also made an official complaint to DFA. Strangely, all the trouble stirred up by Christian has seemed to go over his head as he posted his complaint on the official mailing list of the The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA). A day latter, Gino Vumbaca, the Executive Director of ANCD, posted a condemnation of Christian’s actions on the same mailing list, expressing his disappointment and explaining away Christian’s complaint as unjustified and improper. I am sure there will be much discussion to come and undoubtedly, Gary Christian, in typical form, will try to justify his actions. Gary Christian is infamous for his “logic loops” which shift from one point to another until he digs a hole bigger enough to fit the entire DFA board in it.

The statement was not prepared or discussed with any other members of the Australia and New Zealand regional delegation – with many having now expressed their strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the statement, indeed I am not aware of any member of the delegation that has supported the statement

-Gino Vumbaca, Executive Director - ANCD

Drug Free Australia (DFA) was part of John Howard’s plan to dismantle Harm Minimisation and effectively change our drug policy to follow the lead of the US and Sweden. With funding of $600,000 over 3 years, DFA have contributed nothing of substance to the drug debate except fear, irrational  junk science and religious ideology. Their research is often wrong, theoretical and regularly criticised by industry professionals and peers. Nearly every member is from a strong evangelistic/religious background including Australian Family Association, Seventh Day Adventists, The Salvation Army, Festival of Light and the patron is a TV evangelist who heals the sick on stage using the powers of Jesus. Is DFA the right organisation to be guiding drug strategies in this age of science and medical based treatments? Their resistance to evidence based policies and the proven success of Harm Minimisation leaves them out of step with experts in the field and encourages them use more extreme measures to be heard.

Drug Free Australia will continue to strive for pro health alternatives to illicit drugs and to ensure that harm prevention is not only a household catch phrase, but a reality, put into good practice, throughout our country. 

-DFA Website - About DFA 

Gary Christian embarrassed Australia, New Zealand, The ANCD, other delegates, DFA and himself. I just wonder if the severity of the situation will sink in or will he brush it off as being misunderstood? Since he bravely posted his complaint on the ADCA mailing list, I gather he is preparing to defend his position, not that it is unexpected. Gary has a reputation for not backing down in debates, even if the subject has to shift focus several times to achieve his goal. Disappointingly, Gary’s actions will effect others in the field especially those who worked so hard to represent Australia/New Zealand at the Beyond 2008, Vienna conference. The ANCD deserve much praise for their hard work, as do the participants who attended. The Beyond 2008 declaration is an excellent outcome and all involved should feel proud. 

I also need to advise that the statement provided to the VNGOC by the Drug Free Australia delegate after the Vienna Forum included even further criticism of the Australian consultation and delegation than is included in the statement posted here. I am not sure why this is the case, but again repeat my disappointment, as well as the disappointment for what I understand to now be all other delegates from Australia and New Zealand, as well as many other NGO delegates from around the world that have contacted me about the statement.

-Gino Vumbaca, Executive Director - ANCD

Gary Christian will probably never change his views but he at least should accept that the Beyond 2008 declaration is representative of most NGOs in the field of drug and alcohol treatment. If he has any integrity, he should also apologise to those he misrepresented and upset.


Beyond 2008 Regional Report: Australia and New Zealand

Global Drugs Policy Begins to Stir

Dr. Alex Wodak’s Letter to Crikey

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Cop Overdoses on Stolen Pot & Dials 911

A police officer from Michigan, USA, confiscated marijuana from a suspect and took it home to make brownies for himself and his wife. Apparently they ate too many and had to ring 911 because they thought they had overdosed and were dying. Whilst on the phone to emergency services and "dying", the officer asked for the baseball scores.

The irony of a police officer eating too many marijuana brownies after stealing it, is as comical as the fact that you can’t overdose on cannabis. It seems that this story is so funny that even some media had a hard time reporting on it.


For some though, the incident had a different meaning:

“Special” Brownies


this video really made me think about life. about whether or not i’m really living.

i think, in Christianity, some of us check out too soon.

i go to a church that is vastly made up of grandparents. and most of them have made room for the younger generations to come in and keep the church going. our culture tells us that if we’re not young and trendy and new, then we’re not that valuable. we’re not that important. i think they might be buying into this mindset. i’d give anything for some of them to step back in. for some of them to continue to serve, give, live. sometimes i think they believe they have nothing left to offer.

some of us check out because we are going through a dry season in our faith. we haven’t “heard from God” in a while. we’ve stopped getting the goosebumps when that soloist sings on Sunday mornings. nothing has really “hit” us when we’ve spent time reading the Bible. the church sometimes tells us that if we’re not keenly aware of God, then there is something wrong with us. so we believe we are Spiritually dead. and we check out.

sometimes i think our prayers can sound like the prayers of that cop. “i think we’re dead.”

maybe we’ve allowed ourselves to be taken under the influence of something that clouds our judgment to the point of convincing us we’re already dead.

-Mandy Thompson -

Police officer, Edward Sanchez and his wife were not charged with any offence and resigned before the internal investigation finished. Whilst being interviewed, Sanchez blamed his wife saying that she took the marijuana out of his police car while he was asleep. Unfortunately for Sanchez, his wife had another version of the incident and said that he had tricked her into eating the brownies. After being questioned more intensely, Officer Sanchez finally admitted that he had put the grass in the brownies himself, which they both then ate. He also admitted that the marijuana in question, was taken from a suspect while on duty.

Sanchez’s wife also confessed she had previously removed cocaine from her husband's police car, which was being used to train drug sniffer dogs. She admitted to going on a weekend bender with the stolen coke.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Should We Give Clean Needles to Prisoners?

What do you think? Is your first reaction, no - they are prisoners for god’s sake? I understand that reasoning but there’s a bigger issue here. The alternative to not giving out clean needles is effectively imposing a death sentence via a lethal injection of HIV/AIDS or Hep C. Why then do tax payer funded groups like Drug Free Australia (DFA) oppose the idea so strongly?

I must admit, clean needles for prisoners is a hard one to argue with someone who has little interest in the drug policy debate. Prisoners are there to be punished and the MSM has a habit of telling the public that prison is a holiday camp. Prison is anywhere but a holiday camp for most prisoners and for those addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be a nightmare. Firstly, addicted prisoners are probably only incarcerated because of their drug addiction and secondly, prisons are not known for their Harm Minimisation strategies.

Sterile Syringes Are Provided To Prisoners

Health Canada

In an increasing number of prisons in Switzerland, Germany, and Spain, sterile syringes are provided to prisoners. These programs have demonstrated successful outcomes including reduced rates of occupational exposure to used needles by correctional services personnel and the removal of used needles from circulation. An evaluation of needle exchange programs in Swiss prisons indicated the following: consumption of drugs did not increase; syringes were not used as weapons; there were no incidents of needle stick injuries; sharing of syringes among prisoners greatly decreased; there were no new cases of HIV or hepatitis C; injection site abscesses did not increase; there was a decrease in drug related sanctions; a decrease in overdoses and suicides; and staff acceptance of the program increased.

Drug Free Australia's (DFA) Unscrupulous Campaign

And now our good friends, Drug Free Australia (DFA) are campaigning against possible changes to the prison system that would bring Australia in line with others parts of the world and follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation. As usual, their arguments are mostly based on moral beliefs, what-if scenarios and the ideology of a drug free society. For a heavily tax payer funded NGO, they leave a lot to be desired with their research and reporting. The whole argument by DFA is not only erroneous and lacking in real evidence, it is blatantly wrong and exploitative. 

This brings into play issues such public safety as well as the safety of prison officers and other prisoners. There is at least one case where a NSW prison officer died as a result of HIV after being stabbed with a needle in prison.

-Craig Thompson. DFA

In 2002, The ANCD produced a position paper on the needle exchange program in Australia and recommended the program be introduced into prisons. Since then, 60 prisons in 12 countries now provide clean needles to prisoners and there has not been a single case of using a syringe as a weapon. The only reported case was the case mentioned above which coincidentally was in a prison system where needles are NOT handed out.

Below is a classic example of DFA logic where they have stated that handing out clean needles leads to more users and the spread of disease even though all research concludes the opposite. The crunch is that clean needles would stop the spread of disease not increase it.

Also reported on was a study of more than 200 injecting drug users in Sydney's south-west showing that for every one hundred new users followed for a year, forty-six became infected with Hep C.

This new user figure is frightening. Up to 40% of injecting drug users share their needles. So, project the new user scene if free needles were given out in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC).

-Drug Free Australia (DFA)

DFA have no credibility left, if they ever did in the first place. They should be the last group anyone should be listening to. In a clear case of deceit and arrogance, Jo Baxter from DFA attempts to discredit Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) for their support of clean needles in prison.

For instance the forum being convened by a group called Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform will try to engender greater community support for the concept. If we examine their arguments they are totally flawed, said Jo Baxter, Executive Officer of Drug Free Australia:

-DFA Website

It backfires completely as the evidence Baxter uses is just wrong. For god’s sake, if you are disputing the factual basis of someone’s claim, at least use the truth. To say the reasoning from FFDLR is flawed and then producing truly flawed counter-arguments is a waste of tax payers money.

Mantra(FFDLR): 'The ability for prisoners to use needles to inject drugs in prisons will provide them with a healthier environment and will reduce the spread of HIV and Hep C’. 

WRONG: Firstly, one of the main ideas of a prison is to prevent illegal activity. It therefore follows that prisoners do not have rights to continue an illegal activity when in prison. Secondly, needles/syringes would be a weapon in the hands of many prisoners – to use on other prisoners and/or the guards, doctors and other prison personnel. Thirdly, it is fallacious to claim that needles will reduce blood borne viruses such as HIV and Hep C. There is strong evidence to the contrary. 

-DFA Website

Baxter, in a dizzy cloud of denial, declares that since drug use is illegal, it should not be acknowledged, especial in prison. This is the whole point of clean needles in prison, that drug use does in reality exist, whether we like it or not. Baxter’s argument indicates that since it’s illegal, it’s better for prisoners to be infected with HIV/AIDS or Hep C than to deal with the situation.

Claiming that syringes can be a weapon in the hands of prisoners sounds logical but Baxter, as usual, ignores the research that it is not a known problem. In fact, there are no cases involving prisons that give out clean needles.

The last point is so worrying that the government must act to stop the funding for DFA.To claim that clean needles do NOT reduce blood borne disease like HIV/AIDS and Hep C goes against every respectable report ever done on the subject. Even the general public know this but for a so called professional to make this claim is idiotic and plainly deceitful. To top it off, Baxter actually claims there is strong evidence against clean needles reducing blood borne disease. Where is that evidence, Jo? It does not exist and either Baxter is a deceitful liar or thicker than a plank of wood.

Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) have taken up the cause and for some real insight into the issue, you should read what they have to say.


ACT to reconsider jail needle exchange

Position Paper - Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD)

Minimising the Spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Within the Australian Prison System - Australian Institute of Criminology

Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR) - Newsletter

No NSP in new ACT Prison?