Tuesday, 29 December 2009

DIARY: Christmas 2009 - The Verbose Thank You List

Merry Christmas and A Happy New year.

Thank you everyone, including you, the anti-drug zealot and prohibitionist. Yeah, even you [as “you” is looking around slightly confused].

Why am I being thanked, you’re thinking? Why would Terry Wright be thanking me and wishing me a merry Christmas?

I’m the dumb ignorant git who demands we be “Tough on Drugs” . I create ridiculous laws that ruin families and people’s lives, send non violent citizens to prison and cause so much carnage on society. I can’t be reasoned with or educated - even when confronted with scientific evidence or medical facts. Why thank me?

Isn’t it obvious why you’re being thanked?

The other day, I got home after finally finishing Christmas shopping for the year, poured a glass of fresh orange juice and prepared a shot of China White premium heroin from Burma. After cooling off, I sat down and administered 0.6 grams of heaven into my blood stream. What a great way to unwind and relax. So what the devil has this got to do with thanking anti-drug zealots, moral crusaders and brain dead politicians? Well, it is because of these nice folks that I am able to indulge in a session of opiate induced bliss. Without them, my heroin heaven would probably not be so easy or even possible. For connivence sake, let’s drop the “Christ” from Christmas and call it Xmas. Ah, that feels better says my agnostic sensibility. Back to Xmas and those who I am thanking. As I said, Thank You Very Much [in my best Rex Hunt impersonation] to the foolish lawmakers for allowing me to get heroin so easily.

More importantly, thanks to my loyal readers who are reading this now. Thanks to both of you (there were 3 readers last year). I hope you had a great Xmas, have a good break and an absolutely unbafishcalledwandalievable new year. Every blogger says they only keep writing because they enjoy it but having people actually read your website is the real reason. Not many blogs get past a year without a few readers ... or they get paid. The truth is that money and ego comes first. For me, it’s a mixture of all the factors - I enjoy it but nowhere near as much as I first did, bugger all people read my site and I don’t get paid. How’s that! I know, I know ... you’re thinking this guy must be on drugs. Why do all that work for nothing? The answer is because I have some readers who are prepared to read what I write and I must say, they are very special readers at that. So loyal reader, put your hand on your heart, take a knee and lower your head. Have someone then speak the following important gratitude from me.


There we go, I feel much better. I hope you do too.

Don’t go yet, there’s more. I really owe some big thanks to those who answered my Q and A. Kerry Wolf, Dr. James Rowe, Gino Vumbaca, The Hon. Sandra Kanck and Tony Trimingham. These guys are really busy and have extremely important roles which leaves very little time to spend on a hack website like this. I am still amazed at how willing they were to participate. Not because The Australian Heroin Diaries is important but how dedicated they are to helping others. And that’s what they really do. Forget the fancy titles and the huge role they play in society. They simply help others. The opposite of the anti-drug nutters who spend their time trying to incarcerate, penalise, deprive, alienate, convert, brainwash, belittle, marginalise and shame drug users. So Kerry, James, Gino, Sandra and Tony ... Thank you.

Oi, not yet. If you’re that restless, grab a cup of tea. There are some readers who I want to thank individually. Firesnake (Paul G), Gledwood, Editor(Michael G), Bron, KatD, THR, Roguevert etc. Also those who have listed The Australian Heroin Diaries on their website - Australian Drug Blog, Mina, Sails of Oblivion, Methadone Pretty, The Partisan, Marginalutility, Ben Pobjie's Wonderful World Of Objects, Blues Therapy, Civil Tongues, From The Gingerbread House, Good, Bad, and Bogus, Inner City Trendy, A Fresh Start, Jack Dorfs World of Adventure, The Irish Needle Exchange Forum, Kings Cross Times, OzPolitik, Partisan Revue, Smelly Tongues, Tha Bastard Son, The Red Pill Survival Guide, Canadian Spades, JUNKe Life, With Just A Hint Of Mayhem etc. (Sorry if I missed you) - Thanks. Also I want to thank Zenith from A.T. Watchdog for showing us that compassion and honesty wins out over bigotry and misguided fear. Paul Gallagher from DFA Watch/Firesnake for his zest and ideas. Michael Gormly of Kings Cross Times for his passion of the truth (and his exposure of NCPIC as just another bunch of anti-drug twats). The guys and gals from the Bluelight forums for keeping the information flowing. Free Schapelle for keeping the fight up against the ridiculous jail sentence given to Schapelle Corby. And to others in a similar situation as myself; Gledwood, Noah, Sick Girl, Caty, Donna, Broken, Mina etc.

One of the biggest thrills is to have an article published or referred to. Thanks to Methadone Anonymous Forums, Canna Zine News, Bluelight, A.T. Watchdog, Addiction News, Free Schapelle, Canadian Spades, Kings Cross Times, Ask.com, JUNKe Life, Injecting Advice, New Zealand Drug Foundation, RMIT, Why We Protest, Canna Nation etc.

Not yet, just a few more. Then there’s the members of the ANCD DrugTalk and Update forums especially the administrator, Jane Shelling; Thanks to Paul Dessauer (WASUA) for the most comprehensive and factual responses you will ever read, Mike Ashton, Richard Lake, Leah McLeod - Personal Project Assistant to Dr Alex Wodak, Brian & Marion McConnell - Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR), Sue Miers - NOFASARD, Paul Harvey - Hepatitis C Council of NSW, Paul Gallagher, Michael Gormly - Kings Cross Times, Gary Gahan - South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service, Steve Robinson, Jan Steele, Annie Madden - AIVL, Brian Francis - ACON, Jon Markus - AOD Student, Andy Sinclair - Western Region Health Centre, Philip Clarke, Rowdy Yates - University of Stirling, Scotland, Rob(Inn @ Six), Steve Robinson - AIVL, Piergiorgio Moro - Hepatitis C Victoria, Greg Iverson - YSAS, Peter Watney, David Helliwell, James - The Drug Blog, KAOS and of course Gino Vumbaca - Executive Director of the Australian National Council on Drugs. Also a big thank you to those who provide so much looney entertainment - Gary Christian, Herschel Baker, Jo Baxter etc from DFA and our old mate Harry Clarke.

A general thank you to some people I have not mentioned yet - Bill Bush, Dr David Caldicott, Philip Adams, Network Against Prohibition(NAP), LEAP, Dr Mal Washer, Dr. Andrew Byrne, Greg Barns, Ann Symonds, Penny Sharpe and other drug law reformists for their conviction in science and evidence based policy. Drug Free Australia (DFA) for reminding me why I write this blog. Politicians (especially The Liberal Party) for providing endless material to write about and why a “Tough on Drugs” strategy doesn't work.

And finally to anyone else I have not mentioned ... Thanks.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Czech Republic Decriminalises Heroin, Cocaine, Meth etc. for Personal Use

First Portugal, then Mexico and now The Czech Republic have decriminalised personal amounts of all illicit drugs. Effective from January 1, 2010, anyone caught with less than a nominated amount of any drug will be issued with a fine instead of a possible jail term. Although an increasing number of countries are turning a blind eye to small amounts of drugs for personal use, only a few have actually made it law. With a growing awareness to the carnage caused by the "War on Drugs" and it’s failure to even meet basic goals, many countries are re-evaluating their drug policies especially in relation to users.

One clear advantage of the new laws in The Czech Republic is that the quantity allowed before it becomes a criminal offence is higher and more realistic than other countries. There was some criticism of the recent Mexican decriminalisation laws that the limits set were not reflective of real world drug use. Looking through the quantities used by The Czech Republic, they appear to have got it fairly much right.

One interesting aspect of the new Czech decriminalisation laws is the omission of compulsory drug treatment for anyone caught wiht drugs. For too long now, the trend of sending users to treatment instead of jail has been used for politicial point scoring. Valuable and much-in-demand treatment spots are often taken by those forced into compulsory treatment programs by drug courts whether they need it or not. Most drug courts assume all drug users need treatment and forcing them into a program will be a magical cure. I must take my hat off to the Czechs for showing some common sense and being brave enough to disregard the misguided practice of forced treatment.

Govt Clarifies Rules On Possession Of Drugs
Prague Daily Monitor
December 2009

Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) - The Czech government Monday set the drug possession limits under which the possession of up to 1.5 grammes of heroin, up to one gramme of cocaine and up to two grammes of methamphetamine (pervitine) will not be punishable as of New Year.

Czechs will also be able to legally possess up to 15 grammes of marijuana, according to the Justice Ministry's proposal approved by the government Monday.

Justice Minister Daniela Kovarova drafted the proposal on the basis of the current court practice.

Kovarova told CTK that last week the authors of the proposal met experts and agreed that the limits used in the current court practice were acceptable.

Initially, the proposal allowed for the legal possession of up to two grammes of hard drugs, she said.

"The government finally decided that it would stick to the current court practice and drafted a table based on these limits," Kovarova said.

Kovarova and Interior Minister Martin Pecina were charged today with assessing the functioning of the new rules after some time.

A week ago, the government approved the list of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms, including hemp, coca, mescaline cactus and magic mushrooms, and decided that people would be allowed to grow up to five pieces of such plants and keep 40 magic mushrooms at home.

Shortly after the list was released, Czech cacti growers voiced concern about the new government's directive which set limits to growing plants containing mescaline.

Mescaline is a type of hallucinogen which is illegal in most countries.

The growers of cacti intend to hand over a petition to the government that has been signed by 450 people already.

"Many cacti growers have been immediately criminalised with the approval of the limits set by the Justice Ministry as there are some 4000 types of cacti in the world and some of them can contain a certain amount of mescaline," the organisers of the petition which has been placed on the Internet say.

Kovarova today assured cacti growers that they would not be prosecuted.

She said that growing plants that can be used for illegal drug production is a crime under the valid penal law already.

She pointed out that the government's directives would not have a negative impact on cacti growers as cultivating cacti for scientific and botanical purposes does not harm the interests which the Penal Code protects.

She said that cacti growers could ask the Health Ministry for a permission to grow plants for scientific or botanical purposes.

The government's directive will be specified by the new Penal Code that will take effect on January 1.

The code contains a special provision on the growth of hemp and magic mushrooms.

So far, the tolerated amount of drugs in people's possession has been defined by police internal directives and it was unclear what amount of drugs in personal possession is considered an amount "larger than a small one," which is punishable by the law.

The government's directive concerns the possession of the following drugs:
Pervitine (methamphetamine) - more than two grammes
Heroin  -  more than 1.5 grammes
Cocaine  -  more than one gramme
Amphetamine  -  more than two grammes
Ecstasy  -  more than four tablets
Marijuana  -  more than 15 grammes
Hashish  -  more than five grammes
Magic mushrooms etc.  -  more than 40 pieces
LSD  -  five tablets

Related Articles:
UN vs UN - Decriminalising Drug Use and Human Rights Abuse
WA Do Not Want Tougher Cannabis Laws from 1981
Danes Consider Dutch Style Cannabis Shops
Like Lambs to the Slaughter
Mexico Decriminalises All Drugs (for small amounts) - The Start of a Trend in South America?
5 Grams of Heroin Sends You to Jail
Now We Have Proof - Decriminalising Drugs Works

Thursday, 17 December 2009

ACT Heroin Trial Revived?

The ACT and Federal governments are currently reviewing their drug policies for 2010 onwards. What’s most interesting is that the ACT is proposing once again, a trial of heroin assisted treatment (HAT) for long term drug addicts. The last attempt in 1997 had overwhelming bipartisan federal support and agreement from a majority of the states to move ahead but after continuous displays of moral panic and drug hysteria from the right wing press, little Johnny Howard vetoed the proposal. It was a sad day for Australia especially for the experts who had many years of intensive research flushed down the political loo.

Both the federal government and The ACT are calling for public input and it will be interesting to see what Kevvy will do if a heroin trial is proposed as part of their strategy. Maybe he might do what Denmark did and skip the trial altogether since there is enough evidence already that HAT is successful. Then again, most modern Christians like Kev oppose anything sensible that’s drug related. We will have to wait and see if Kev’s claim before the election to base policies on evidence, is true.

Public Input Critical To Make Drug Strategies Better
Canberra Times (page 17)
December 2009

Federal and ACT policies need a full and objective review, Brian McConnell writes.*

The ACT and Federal governments are reviewing their respective drug strategies and are seeking community input. The timing for seeking comments is unfortunate as many are in holiday mode. But if the community does not become engaged both drug strategies will just be more of the same.

That is drug overdoses, diseases and deaths; full jails; huge profits to black marketeers; more sensational headlines about “the biggest drug bust ever”, but effectively no real change.

And the vast bulk of funding going to the criminal justice system, despite evidence to the contrary that increased health and treatment provides a greater pay-off.

The ACT draft strategy 2010-2014 is generally a sound document with guiding principles that include: harm minimisation; applying evidence-based practice; and increasing access to services.

Harm minimisation is a three pillar policy adopted by all Australian governments which include supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction.

Generally it relates to the prohibition regime for illicit drugs but the ACT draft strategy applies the principle to all drugs.

Two potentially life-saving actions included in the ACT strategy are a national and local early warning system about drug purity and strength and a heroin trial.

Readers will recall that the heroin trial had been approved at a meeting of all health and police ministers in 1997, a decision that still stands. However the then prime minister John Howard vetoed the importation of the heroin necessary for the trial to be implemented.

The question of importation now needs to be put to the current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. And given that overseas countries, which have adopted the practice of providing prescription heroin to the severely addicted, have experienced outstanding results in terms of reduced drug related crime, reduced drug use and reduced drug supply, it is questionable that a trial is necessary. Australia could follow Denmark’s lead, accept the evidence and move directly to implementation.

It is noteworthy that the ACT strategy proposes that police will have a target of increasing the number of arrests of drug providers (ie dealers). The past records show that increasingly the majority of arrests for drug offences were of consumers (ie 77 per cent in 2004-05, 82 per cent in 2005-06, and 87 per cent in 2006-07). Consumption of drugs is largely a health issue and therefore the target should include reduction of consumer arrests.

There are omissions from the ACT’s strategy that merit examination, there is correctly no mention of roadside drug testing in the strategy. There is little evidence of its cost-effectiveness, there is no base line as there is with alcohol, and the current tests are only available for a limited number of drugs that as yet, have not been shown to be the cause of significant road accidents.

The provision of “the same health services to prisoners as the general community”, although a public health and human rights issue, has not been brought forward from the previous strategy. An example is the provision of clean syringes to injecting drug-using prisoners. The facts are clear - drugs and syringes are shared in prisons and the ACT prison is no exception. The experiences in prisons in European countries with syringe exchange programs have been positive and free of major problems.

The objection to the program appears to come from the prison officers who fear that syringes could be used as weapons, stating the case of a prison officer in a NSW jail who was stabbed by an infected syringe by a mentally ill prisoner. The officer died as a result. But note that this happened even though syringes were banned. For prison officers, this is an unrecognised OHS issue. With controlled provision, officers would be safer knowing where every syringe was and that they were uncontaminated.

The most significant item missing from the strategy is a full and thorough evaluation of illegal drug policies, policies that have given rise to most of the problems we experience with illicit drugs.

Regulated and controlled, the black market and other problems would reduce significantly.

Most recently David Weisbrot former head of Australian Law Reform Commission had this to say about treatment of drugs:

“I think the war on drugs, using that kind of military approach and policing approach, has really failed communities all around the world, and you can see the fallout from it, not only in the statistics of people who have died, or had serious health ailments from their drug use, but also the way it's distorted the criminal justice system and ravaged many of our communities.”

No one’s family is immune from the ravages of drugs. Holiday mode or not, now is the time to become engaged and insist that a full and objective review of drug policies be included in both strategies.

Brian McConnell is President of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

Related Articles:
The Start of Prescription Heroin in Australia?
Survey: Heroin Trials in Australia
Who Supports a Heroin Trial?
UK Heroin Trials - Another Win For Prescription Heroin
Canada Provides the Final Proof Needed for Heroin Assisted Treatment
Germany Passes Prescription Heroin into Law
What Does Prescription Heroin Really Mean for Junkies?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Goods News About Hepatitis C

It seems there’s good news everywhere in the fight against Hep C. Firstly, the US congress has voted to lift the federal ban on funding syringe exchange programs after 21 years. Secondly, there has been some major breakthroughs for scientists in their search for an effective Hep C treatment. Two Australian researchers are responsible for one of the discoveries.

AIDS Activists Cheer End to Ban on Needle Exchange Funding
By Susan Sharon

After two decades, Congress has voted to lift a ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs. AIDS activists are cheering the move, which they say legitimizes needle exchange as a weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

For years, needle exchange programs in three dozen states have provided clean needles to intravenous drug users as a way to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. But the programs have relied solely on state and local funding because of a longtime ban at the federal level, where some have regarded needle exchange as an incentive for drug addicts to continue to use.

"People have been afraid that this is going to conflict with some sort of zero tolerance policy," says Bill McColl, who is with the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group AIDS Action. He says the vote to lift the ban is a vote for science over outdated stereotypes.

"There are eight federal reports that show that syringe exchange will decrease HIV and Hepatitis," he says. "It doesn't increase substance abuse. You know, this is a real opportunity to do some serious outreach to a population that is often overlooked."

In some places, such as Maine, needle exchange rates have been on the rise. At the Eastern Maine AIDS Network, for example, about 4,000 dirty needles are swapped out for clean ones every month. Just three years ago, only 300 clean needles were given out monthly.

Observers credit a new director with effective outreach. But Maine has also had an increase in IV drug use. And Andrew Bossie of the Maine AIDS Alliance says that's why federal funding for needle exchange is so important -- as many as 12 percent of people being infected with HIV are getting infected by injecting drugs.

"So we're really very happy that the U.S. House and Senate have lifted this ban and that we're on our way to more sound policies that prevent the spread of HIV."

Though it's a rural state, Maine has four needle exchange programs which Bossie says are all facing funding problems. Around the country there are about 200. President Obama has previously expressed support for liftting the ban on federal funding of needle exchange as a way to reduce rates of infection.

And while his expected signing of the bill later this month won't guarantee programs get additional funding, activists say it could give more options to those affected by state and local budget cuts.

Liver-Targeted Drug Stops Hepatitis C
Durable DNA Molecule Blocks Hepatitis C Virus in Chimp Study
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
Dec 2009

Hepatitis C virus can't get a grip on the livers of chimps treated with a new antisense DNA drug.

The drug, dubbed SPC3649, doesn't attack the hepatitis C virus (HCV) itself. Instead, it blocks the tiny RNA molecules in the liver -- microRNA-122 or miR-122 -- that the virus must use to make new copies of itself. HVC causes disease only when it can replicate to high liver concentrations.

HCV levels drop 350-fold in chimps treated with SPC3649, find Robert E. Lanford, PhD, of San Antonio's Southwest foundation for Biomedical Research and colleagues.

"The drug worked exceptionally well in treating HCV infections in chimpanzees," Lanford said in a news release. In an email to WebMD he said, "We were very excited with the outcome."

The researchers studied four chimps chronically infected with HCV genotype 1, the most common HCV strain in the Americas and Australia. It's also the most treatment-resistant HCV strain.

Two chimps got a low dose of SPC3649, and two got a high dose, given once a week for 12 weeks. The higher-dose treatment was remarkably effective in suppressing HCV. The lower dose showed a strong but lesser effect in one chimp, but not in the other.

As long as the animals stayed on the drug -- and for two weeks after treatment stopped -- HCV levels remained low. But after treatment ended, HCV levels eventually rebounded to pretreatment levels.

Treatment, however, made the virus much more sensitive to the antiviral effects of interferon. Interferon, combined with ribavirin, is the best current treatment for HCV, but only about half of people infected with genotype 1 HCV get long lasting control of the virus. It's hoped that SPC3649 could eventually be combined with interferon to give the virus a knockout punch.

SPC3649 targets miR-122 in the liver, where it plays a role in cholesterol metabolism. The only side effect seen in the chimps was a rather dramatic lowering of LDL (bad) cholesterol. In earlier studies with green monkeys, the drug had a stronger effect on HDL (good) cholesterol. That would not be a good thing if it happens in humans, but SPC3649 affects cholesterol differently in different primate species.

"I suspect that at some point lowering HDL too much would be a problem if you did not lower LDL at the same time," Lanford said in his email. "I do not suspect that this will be a limitation of this drug, but human clinical trial data are needed to address this issue."

That data is on the way. The drug's manufacturer, Santaris Pharma of Hoersholm, Denmark, has begun a phase 1 safety trial in HCV patients. Santaris funded the Lanford study and Santaris researchers contributed to the work.

Beyond HCV: LNA Drugs vs. Cancer, Inflammation, More
SPC3649 is actually a man-made strand of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA. The drug is actually an antisense nucleotide, meaning that it is assembled in a way that makes it complementary to its RNA target.

Antisense nucleotides inactivate their targets. But normal nucleotides quickly break down in the bloodstream. SPC3649 uses a proprietary technology to lock it together so that it does not break down. Santaris calls this a "locked nucleic acid (LNA)-modified oligonucleotide."

The LNA technology is not unique to SPC3649. Santaris has used the technology to create LNA drugs for cancer, inflammatory diseases, metabolic diseases, and rare genetic disorders. These drugs are in various stages of preclinical and clinical development with various partner companies.

The Lanford study was published online in the Dec. 3 issue of Science Express.

Aussies Aid Hepatitis C 'Breakthrough'
Sep 2009

An Australian-led team of international medical researchers may have scored an important breakthrough in the treatment of hepatitis C.

The team, led by Sydney molecular geneticist David Booth and Sydney University hepatitis C expert Jacob George, has identified a variant in an interferon gene which links it to the treatment of the chronic hepatitis C virus (HVC).

The gene, known as IL28B, was found to encode an interferon "lambda" involved with the suppression of viruses, including HCV.

Interferons, or proteins inhibiting the replication of viruses, are identified through the use of letters from the Greek alphabet.

The researchers said the new study showed use of the interferon-lambda in treatment could benefit those people identified as best suited to receive it and spare others the cost and side effects of their current treatments.

Prof George said the current standard treatment procedure for chronic HCV was combined therapy with pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin for about 11 months.

"This treatment can have side effects and only about 40 to 50 per cent of individuals infected with HCV show a positive response to it," Prof George said.

"The current study renews interest in therapies which involve this type of interferon, and suggest that combined treatment with interferon-alpha and interferon-lambda may prove a more effective treatment."

Dr Booth, a molecular geneticist with Westmead Millennium Institute who is widely recognised for his work with multiple sclerosis and genes that cause autoimmune disease, said the same principles applied to hepatitis C infection as to MS.

"We inherit from our parents subtle differences in the make-up of our immune system that can make a major difference in susceptibility to disease or how we respond to treatment," he said.

"Finding each of the few genes that have such an impact gives science an edge in the eventual prevention or control of many of the major diseases of humankind."

He said the finding that inherited differences in the interferon lambda gene has such an impact on the treatment of Hep C provided a valuable new lead into beating "an infection of epidemic proportion worldwide".

Almost 300 million people are known to have been infected with hepatitis C, which is a leading cause of liver disease.

Results of the study into interferon IL28B were published on Sunday's Nature Genetics website.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Drug Reporting in the MSM - They Just Get Sillier and Sillier

I’m sure this article is joke. It must be because no editor could ever let this out without risking their job and reputation ... unless you work for News Corp. The article starts with dire warnings of “significant side effects” and deadly consequences but when the side effects are listed we are faced with nothing more than minimal drug reactions. Talk about a let down.

Police Warn Of Dangerous BZP Passed As Ecstasy
December 2009

POLICE are warning about a batch of dangerous drugs that may be in circulation in WA being sold as ecstasy.

The Serious and Organised Crime Squad has received an analysis of the recent 14 kg pill seizure identififying them as Benzylpiperazine or BZP -- not as MDMA or ecstasy tablets.

Detectives believe that it is not uncommon for illicit drug suppliers to pass off BZMP as MDMA, as their appearance is similar and the drugs possess similar properties.

Like MDMA, BZP also has significant side effects and can prove deadly in certain circumstances.

Side effects include: Increased heart rate; dilation of pupils; nausea; flushing; dry mouth; urinary incontinence.

These specific pills have been branded with the Nike “tick” and Apple Mac logos.

Anyone with information regarding the location of other pills matching this description is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

So where did the author of the article come up with this line:
Like MDMA, BZP also has significant side effects and can prove deadly in certain circumstances
It sounds serious. That is until you read the side effects. Dry mouth? Dilation of pupils? Are they serious? Flushing and increased heart rate? Nausea ... urinary incontinence? It sounds more like drinking too much coffee than a dangerous drug.

And what the hell is urinary incontinence? I think they mean urinary retention which is a known side effect.

BZP is actually legal in many countries including the UK. Although most governments are looking to ban BZP, it can still be bought over the counter in shops with less restrictions than a packet of cigarettes or a bottle of wine. Any sensible government would research the drug thoroughly and keep it legal under regulations that reflect the associated harms. Interestingly, if we base the restrictions on the related harm, it would then be easier to buy than booze. But booze aside, regulations could entail restrictions to children under 18, a prescription from a doctor and a price that would undercut illegal dealers. Of course the quality would be of pharmaceutical grade which would entice the vast majority of users away from the black market. Anyone who is hell bent on taking the drug would now have to visit a doctor first for a prescription where they could be educated about the harms involved. A practice that isn’t performed by the local drug dealer waiting at the train station.

Reader Comments from PerthNow:
Go for it kiddies - did the guys that sold it too you tell you that a side effect is urinary incontinence? I didn't think so. LOL.
-Crackers of Freo

I love it when a joke backfires on a smartarse. Urinary incontinence is NOT a side effect of BZP. They article made a mistake and meant to write urinary retention.

I say flood the markets with these drugs. If these braindead losers want to pop these pills, then let them all suffer the consequences. When all of the addicts go belly up, then all the demand for these stupid things will dry up. Problem solved.
-Charles Darwin of Evolutionville

Easy way to deal with drugs addicts is for the government to give free 100% pure crap away and let them all die. No hassles, no worries ...
-millsy of perth

Ah, the humanity in the Murdoch press. If the drugs were pure then deaths would be averted.

What's that white stuff you get around your battery's terminals? PbSO4 if my high school chemistry doesn't fail me...
-Charles Darwin's mate of Same place

Of course, drug dealers spend hours each day looking for a tiny bit of acid that builds up around a car battery. Then they wonder why all their clients never come back.

I'm glad you're not my friend of bizarre logic - its called harm minimisation, because most people recognise that JUST SAY NO doesnt work, because beleive it or not, people take drugs.. millsy of perth - pure drugs dont kill people, its the crap they put in them, and examples like this where they "substitute" one drug for another that makes it "more" dangerous for the user.. People will do drugs, sayin they all should die etc. just show the intelligence level (or lack of) of the people making those comments Charles Darwin of Evolutionville - what if one of these "braindead losers " was one of your family, like a son or a daughter, would you want them to go belly up too?? Disgusting comment
-Matt R of Melbourne

Finally some sense.

Matt R of Melbourne - I dont have any braindead losers in my family that take drugs. Myself and all of my family are well educated and mentally sound that we don't feel the ridiculous need or braindead desire to take drugs. Not only is taking drugs dangerous, but its also against the law. All you drug taking braindead losers out there clearly have no respect for yourselves, others or the law. So feel free to pop away and go belly up. Society neither wants nor needs you.
-Charles Darwin of Evolutionville

Yes, the law stops most users of illegal drugs. pffft. But since booze is legal, it’s alright to get paralytic drunk and become one of the 3000 drinkers who die each year from alcohol.

Hahaha, if idiots are stupid enough to pop pills in the first place let them all overdose and die for their own stupid mistakes and stop wasting tax payers money on police squads trying to stop them!
-chris2pher of Adelaide

More humanity in the Murdoch press. Maybe they wouldn’t die if we stop wasting tax payers money on police squads trying to stop them.

...And as for the prohibition argument, those events occurred almost 100 years ago, so its completely invalid for todays society. And the same clown also stated that [recreational] drugs are safer and not addicive and cause very few problems for society. Are you serious???? Please tell me that you don't honestly believe that crap you just wrote. Not addicitive? Dont make me laugh. Safe? Laughing still. And very few problems for society? LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!
-Charles Darwin of Evolutionville

Because an event occurred almost 100 years ago, its completely invalid for today's society? Say no more.

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Friday, 4 December 2009

SA Police Minister - Drug Dogs Massive Success (LMAO)

It’s bizarre that we hear about so much success at getting drugs off the streets when in reality about 90% slip through the net. Have you ever looked closely at the figures put out when a so called successful operation is bandied about? A recent media release from the South Australian Police Minister, Michael Wright is a prime example of under achievement being dressed up as some sort of success.

Hon Michael Wright Minister for Police Minister for Emergency Services Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing

Friday, 6 November 2009
Police Dogs Detect Over 1000 Ecstasy Pills In 12 Months

Passive Alert Drug Detection Dogs have sniffed out a cocktail of illicit drugs and paraphernalia during their first year on the beat in South Australia.

Police Minister, Michael Wright, said, “The three highly trained canines and their handlers have achieved remarkable results in a short period of time and they should be commended for their commitment to disrupting drug taking and dealing on our streets.”

Since new legislation was introduced in October last year the PADD dogs have been deployed on 193 occasions. They’ve sniffed out in total:

1090 Ecstasy tablets, 4 LSD tablets, 1.58 kilograms of cannabis, 17 grams of amphetamine, 6 grams of ketamine, 3 grams of cocaine, 15mls GHB 21 pieces of drug paraphernalia including an ice pipe and cocaine kit.

Along with these detections, 31 people were arrested, 310 reported and 189 referred to drug diversions with 2 arrested for hindering police.

“This should serve as a stern warning to anyone considering taking or carrying drugs in and around entertainment venues and events that they’ll end up feeling the bite.”

The PADD dogs have also been deployed to ‘dance music’ concerts at Bonython Park and the ‘Big Day Out’ concert at Wayville. Country deployments have included Mt. Gambier, Naracoorte, Renmark, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Ceduna and Victor Harbor during ‘Schoolies Week’.

They’ve been on the beat several times at the Adelaide airport passenger terminal and railway stations at Noarlunga, Adelaide, Keswick, Salisbury and Elizabeth.

The dogs have also played a major role in patrolling the State’s known drug transit routes including National Highway One, Port Wakefield, the Mallee Highway, Pinnaroo, Sturt Highway, Blanchetown, Dukes Highway, Keith, Princes Highway, Monteith and Stuart Highway, Glendambo and Marla.

These dogs are playing an important part in the Government’s attack on the illegal drug trade. Other steps taken have included;

• Banning the equipment used in the manufacture of illicit drugs
• Trebling the expiation penalties for possession of cannabis
• Banning the sale of drug paraphernalia
• Introducing tough new Hydroponics laws to crackdown on the cultivation of hydroponically grown cannabis

The Rann Government’s stance on illicit drugs is vastly different from that of Opposition Leader, Isobel Redmond.

Last year Ms Redmond, during a debate on the Drug Paraphernalia Bill, supported an amendment that would have effectively saved the bong and made the legislation pointless. It would have seen drug paraphernalia continue to be freely available in South Australia

On 10 December 2006, Mrs Redmond said in a TV interview: “I mean certainly the information is that ecstasy doesn’t seem to be as big a risk as a number of other drugs.”

Minster Wright said, “We will continue to toughen the laws and give our police whatever they need to tackle the illegal drug trade in this State, and that includes all illicit substances.”

I find the comments of politicians and some police fascinating at times especially the tough talk when an operation bombs. When is someone in power finally going to say, “This is pointless. We are not even making a dent in the black market for drugs. We need a new approach.”
The three highly trained canines and their handlers have achieved remarkable results in a short period of time and they should be commended for their commitment to disrupting drug taking and dealing on our streets
-The Hon Michael Wright - Police Minister

I’m sorry Michael but “remarkable results” means more than just 3 ecstasy pills a day or 4 LSD tablets for a whole year. Also, 6 grams of ketamine, 3 grams of cocaine and 15mls of GBH over 12 months is not worth celebrating. Even 1.58 kilograms of cannabis is lousy. What I don’t understand though is the so called “success” from confiscating 21 pieces of drug paraphernalia including an ice pipe and a cocaine kit. You have most likely sentenced someone to a slow agonising death from HIV/AIDS. Good work, Michael.
This should serve as a stern warning to anyone considering taking or carrying drugs in and around entertainment venues and events that they’ll end up feeling the bite.
-The Hon Michael Wright - Police Minister

Your successful hounds went out 193 times costing us at least half a million dollars while shifting scarce police resources away from where they are really needed. If these sniffer dogs were used at customs or the airport to find explosives, dangerous chemicals or exotic wildlife then the cost can be justified but hassling commuters at train stations and trouble free patrons of dance clubs is just a huge waste of money and resources.
His research revealed that 74% of those searched following an indication by a dog were found not to be in possession of illegal drugs.
-The Privacy Ombudsman of New South Wales

But credit should be given when it’s due so congratulations for arresting 31 people and reporting 310 others. Yipeeee! I feel a lot safer knowing that 31 dangerous thugs are getting a permanent criminal record. But there’s more congratulations. 189 users are off to treatment to rectify their immoral and evil ways. Michael, you know that drug diversion doesn’t work unless they actually have a drug problem? And if they do, they must be ready to be treated. You know this ... right? You know they take up the hard-to-find places usually needed by those who are genuinely seeking treatment? Right?

We need to be honest and direct here. The claims of success from the police minister, on many levels, are decietful and even dangerous. The sniffer dogs are expensive, invasive and have not achieved any notable success over the last 12 months. Normal, everyday South Australians are getting permanent criminal records or being sent for drug treatment which they don’t need. Prohibiting safety equipment like commercially made bongs and cocaine/ice kits increases the harm to drug users including the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hep C. Incidentally these diseases often cross over into the general public and can kill people. I fail to see how this is “success”?

To top it off, this so called media release cranks up the political spin machine by criticising opposition leader, Isobel Redmond for being pragmatic and telling the truth. Not supporting a dangerous and irresponsible proposal to ban drug paraphernalia because it would lead to more sickness and death overrides the lame excuse, “It would have seen drug paraphernalia continue to be freely available in South Australia”.
I mean certainly the information is that ecstasy doesn’t seem to be as big a risk as a number of other drugs.
-Opposition Leader - Isobel Redmond

Attempting to embarrass Isobel Redmond by rehashing a quote from 2006 is downright disgraceful. Why is it disgraceful? Because she is correct and telling the truth. Playing on the public’s fear and ignorance is so typical of today’s politician when it comes to drugs but attempting to discredit someone for being truthful is as low as it gets. This dig at Isobel Redmond is reminiscent of how the SA parliament treated the Hon. Sandra Kanck. Sandra was a sucker for the facts which drove anti-drug nutters like the SA Attorney General, Michael Atkinson and local independent, Anne Bressington into a frenzy. For Atkinson, Bressington, Wright, Rann etc., it’s impossible to have a good drug policy when the facts keep getting in the way.

SCC Rules Random Sniffer-Dog Searches Are Unlawful
Queensland - Beautiful One Day ... Busted for Drugs the Next
Sniffer Dog Checks Bite Into Our Civil Liberties

Monday, 30 November 2009

WHAT?!!! ... Another Dickhead Lib from WA

This is getting monotonous! As I was reading through the Kings Cross Times, I discovered yet another idiotic comment from a WA Liberal Party politician. The Hon. Nick Goiran MLC, member for the South Metropolitan Region has replied to a letter from a concerned citizen about the proposed legislation to repeal the Cannabis Control Act 2003. Whilst reading the reply, I couldn’t help but wonder if this guy actually knew what he was writing about. Apart from sounding like a media release, I realised that every point he raised was untrue. How could such a thing happen in 2009? Was he fabricating the whole letter or simply so stupid, he didn’t know any better? Either way, it’s another clear example of how so many public officials are not fit to hold office and represent the people.

Reply from WA politician Hon Nick Goiran MLC to a letter re repeal of the Cannabis Control Act 2003:

21 October 2009

Dear Mr X


Thank you for your letter regarding Premier Colin Barnett's announcement to introduce legislation to repeal the Cannabis Control Act 2003.

The State Government recognises that illicit drug use is a significant problem which affects the lives of users, their families, friends and the wider WA community and cannabis-related legislation is sending a clear anti-drugs message to the community.

Research shows that cannabis use can lead to a mass of health and mental health problems including respiratory problems and cancer risk, abnormalities in reproductive functioning and schizophrenia.
Drugs are an insidious threat to the fabric of our society. l have personally seen how people are enslaved, threatened and exploited because of drug debts and addiction. Illegal drugs ruin lives, shatter families and can create a downfall on our community foundation. We should seek to protect our fellow West Australians and these initiatives will crackdown on the plague of illicit drugs in our State.

From what you have written, you support a policy of 'Harm Minimisation'- a strategy to ameliorate the adverse consequences of drug use while drug use continues. I firmly believe that harm minimisation strategies communicate a message condoning drug use, a message I do not espouse. Furthermore, in my view harm minimisation strategies have been an abject failure.

Accordingly, l strongly support the Premier's announcement and the use of criminal law to deter drug use and look forward to voting in favour of the proposed legislation.

Yours sincerely

Hon Nick Goiran MLC

Member for the South Metropolitan Region

The letter opens with the standard claim that they are sending a message to the community that drugs are dangerous. Only those who are already anti-drugs ever take notice of an anti-drugs message e.g. parents, anti-drug groups, fellow politicians and moral crusaders. To the rest of us, the message is clear ... more wasted money, more useless dribble and more mindless policies.

Goiran then explains to Mr X that research has shown that cannabis use can lead to a “mass” of health and mental health problems. They include respiratory problems and cancer risk, abnormalities in reproductive functioning and schizophrenia. Not a whole lot of problems compared to other dangerous drugs like alcohol or crack. Where’s the addiction, damage to vital organs, psychosis, overdose and death? The listed problems reek like an extract from a NCPIC brochure or a Daily Telegraph article that exagerate the effects using worst case scenarios. The letter conveniently ignores the fact that most cannabis users are very moderate users and rarely have cannabis health problems.

The list of health and mental health problems:

Respiratory problems: Hasn’t Nick heard of vaporisers or consuming something orally? As for the average cannabis smoker who maybe smokes a few times a week, the intake of smoke is tiny.

Cancer risk: I assume that Nick means Lung cancer? I say that because cannabis is showing that it actual helps prevent some cancers.
A major 2006 study compared the effects of tobacco and Cannabis smoke on the lungs. The outcome of the study showed that even very heavy cannabis smokers "do not appear to be at increased risk of developing lung cancer," while the same study showed a twenty-fold increase in lung cancer risk for tobacco smokers who smoked two or more packs of tobacco cigarettes a day. It is known that Cannabis smoke, like all smoke, contains carcinogens and thus has a probability of triggering lung cancer. THC, unlike nicotine, is thought to "encourage aging cells to die earlier and therefore be less likely to undergo cancerous transformation."

Abnormalities in reproductive functioning:
The effects of cannabis on reproductive functioning are uncertain. The claim that cannabis impairs male and female reproductive functioning in humans has very little support in the scientific world. Although it is wise for pregnant women to abstain from using most drugs, the bulk of scientific evidence indicates that cannabis has very few adverse effects on the developing fetus.

Schizophrenia: Sorry Nick but cannabis doesn’t usually cause schizophrenia for the average user but might bring it on in those who have a family history of mental illness. The police would have to stop 40,000 average cannabis users from ever using again to prevent one case of schizophrenia in those who have no links to the illness.

Following on, Goiran explains that “drugs are an insidious threat to the fabric of our society” and claims he has observed for himself “how people are enslaved, threatened and exploited because of drug debts and addiction”. What he leaves out is that the proposed laws will only make matters worse. But annoying things like facts are not a problem for Goiran and he proudly declares that “I strongly support the Premier's announcement and the use of criminal law to deter drug use”. In one sentence, Goiran dismisses years of careful research and precise scientific studies and overrides it with his own Drugs are Bad, mmkay stupidity.

If there is any doubt left that the Hon. Nick Goiran is as thick as Colin Barnett’s forehead, then this statement will remove all doubt:
Furthermore, in my view harm minimisation strategies have been an abject failure
-The Hon. Nick Goiran MLC

It may only be his view but this man is supposed to represent the public. Making ridiculous comments like this is unacceptable and just further proof that Western Australia is packed with Liberal Party dickheads. And I mean dickheads of the highest degree. Harm Minimisation saves thousands of lives and gives hope and some much needed respect to those who have a drug problem. It’s success has been hailed around the world as more and more countries adopt it as official drug policy. I would love to know why it has failed? Stating that “I firmly believe that harm minimisation strategies communicate a message condoning drug use” might help explain Goiran’s logic or lack thereof. Not being able to understand the subtlety between condoning drug use and accepting the reality that people have and always will use drugs regardless of laws, highlights serious incompetence for someone in Goiran’s position. In fact, it’s a disgrace. If Nick Goiran was employed by the private sector, he would promptly be sacked and his reputation shredded. If ever a wrong message was being sent to our kids then this is it - the facts aren’t important for political decisions. The WA Libs have a history of pumping out anti-drug rhetoric which is always void of the truth and evidence. From ‘Dippy’ Donna Faragher to Luke Simpkins, from Christian Porter to the Premier himself, the spin is thick and the bullshit aplenty.

I can understand how some governments might overlook scientific research and evidence but to make contrary claims by lying is abhorrent. Remember British scientist, Prof. David Nutt who was sacked as head of the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) for telling the truth? The furore that followed had many hammering the government for ignoring scientific evidence about drugs and instead using the drug scheduling list for political means. The UK government reclassified cannabis from a class C drug back up to class B citing potency and mental health problems as the main reasons. The problem was, the ACMD had researched these issues and found them to have little effect on the nation and that harsher laws would be no deterrent at all. Does all this sound familiar? Maybe like Colin Barnett repealing the state’s cannabis laws for dubious, political reasons? Watch the clip below and note how many lies are told by Barnett which are then debunked by a medical expert.

How could someone stare into a camera and just blurt out so much crap? Surely they know that any claims can be checked by viewers within minutes? Any normal person would cringe and then apologise for being so arrogant and uninformed but the Barney Rubble look-a-like just marches on like a lobotomised lemming. A comedy writer could have a field day with this - a cross between Yes Minister, The Office, The Hollowmen and The Flintstones.

The days are over where we took for granted what an elected government told us. It ended when modern conservatives like neocons and the rabid right took power in the 1970s to the 1990s. They believe it’s okay to lie to the people if it’s in their best interest and helps achieve the government’s agenda. But those policies based on Game Theory didn’t factor in the internet giving access to so much factual information. Are Barnett and co. so delusional that they still believe the public will accept their views as gospel if they lie? Or are they just luddites that got lucky?

The Kings Cross Times that originally printed the letter from Nick Goiran also mentioned that a mystery female WA Liberal MP and a cohort were rude to retired Seattle police commissioner Dr Norm Stamper, who was visiting Australia for a series of speeches on drug prohibition. An article by Dr Stamper in the Huffington Post wrote about being ambushed by this mystery MP before even walking through the front door for a prearranged meeting. According to Dr Stamper, he was berated and talked down to while the MP and cohort continually interrupted to “educate” him about how dangerous he was to Western Australia. Imagine what Dr Stamper thought when some rabid right-wing redneck was telling him, a retired police commissioner and ex drug cop, about the drug situation and how wrong he is. Hmph! Those crazy WA Libs!

Some final questions: I wonder what Dr Mal Washer, the Liberal MP for Moore, thinks of all this? After all, he is one of the Co-Chairs of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform. I wonder if all the WA Libs think the same way? The whole party can’t be that stupid ... can they? And finally: how are tougher cannabis laws going to reduce the state’s drug problem. Only 3% of cannabis users come in contact with the law and we know that harsher penalties doesn’t deter drug use. Why don’t the WA Libs comprehend this when the rest of the world are wising up?

Related Articles:
Cannabis/Schizophrenia Link 'Minimal' -- UK Study
WA Do Not Want Tougher Cannabis Laws from 1981
The Final Proof - Colin Barnett is a Dickhead
Do Dickhead Politicians Grow on Trees in WA?
Drug Bins in WA Brings Out the Nutters
The Liberal Party on Drugs
WA Liberals - Drug Policy Blues
WA Liberals Become Even Sillier

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Q & A: Mr. Tony Trimingham

Name: Tony Trimingham

Role: Chief Executive Officer, Family Drug Support
Date: January 2009

Tony Trimingham is a busy man. Too busy for questionnaires like this. But after several attempts and some selfish pleading, Tony finally gave in. Why would someone like Tony Trimingham use the very limited free time he has to answer questions about his profession? You would think that being one of Australia’s most public and active drug treatment professionals, it would leave him little or no time for a small blog like The Australian Heroin Diaries. But that’s Tony Trimingham for you. For years, Tony has supported the families of drug users who are so often overlooked in the treatment of drug addiction. His wisdom and compassion is legendary as is his relentless call for drug law reform and for the full implementation of Harm Minimisation policies. So what’s one little Q and A to fill out during dinner at 11.00pm when you get home from work on Sunday night?

About Tony Trimingham
Mr Trimingham established the Damien Trimingham Foundation after the death of his son from a drug overdose. A counsellor for twenty years, Mr Trimingham has assisted many families who are affected by illicit drug use. The Foundation’s working project, ‘Family Drug Support’ runs a 24hr help line, support meetings and has produced a Parent Education Kit for families with drug problems. The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia awarded Mr Trimingham an Australia Day Medallion in 1999 for outstanding achievement in the reduction of alcohol and drug-related harm.
[source: ANCD]


Family Drug Support has some conflicting views with most abstinence only drug treatment centres? Do you find many potential members who disagree with the FDS supporting such strategies as drug decriminalisation and heroin assisted treatment (HAT)?
Families often start the journey in a controlling way and often take a hardline. Over time they often realise this is counter productive and can lead to harm.

So most of the family members we talk to over time support harm reduction strategies. You sometimes meet someone who’s locked themselves into a hardline position early on and it then becomes difficult for them to change direction.

Are your members from a wide cross section of society?
Our members come from every part of Australia, outback towns to suburban cities. They come from all economic, ethnic, religious and philosophical groups. However, it is true to say that most of the people who contact us are female (80%) most of them mothers (60%) and there are more Anglo, educated, middle class people then others. It is a challenge to reach across the barriers and reach the ones we don’t get.

Was it difficult to write your book, Not My Family, Never My Child?
Finding the time was the hardest.

Like you, South Australian anti-drug crusader and politician, Anne Bressington lost a child to drugs but she took a completely different approach towards drug policy and treatment. What are your thoughts?
Anne Bressington initially supported drug law reform and I had a constructive relationship with her, I don’t know why she changed – although I have some theories.

Do you feel it’s someone’s right to take illicit drugs?
Humans have the right to do many risky things in life and drug taking (especially illicit) is risky. While I do not condone or endorse drug taking I understand that people like doing it. With this right comes responsibility – especially to those close to them and the community at large.

Do you think a recreational drug user has many obstacles to living a normal productive life compared to someone who completely abstains?
A recreational drug user has human rights and I agree their lives should be productive and healthy. The drug user faces challenges caused by stigma and negative attitudes to drugs. Unfortunately this is a reality and families also face some of these challenges.

Some member of Drug Free Australia (DFA) say ex-addicts especially those on heavy medication like methadone don’t have a place discussing addiction treatment. Are the correct?
Organisations like Drug Free Australia look at drug use in the way they view other complexities of life – from a moral and religious viewpoint. They are entitled to their opinion but often morality takes over from evidence. When they express their often noisy opinions those of us who do operate from compassionate logic need to counter their moral argument.

Other Opiate Maintenance Treatments (OMT) in use or on trial in Europe, Canada and the U.K. have had very successful results. Should other forms of OMT be trailed in Australia like slow release oral morphine, Injectable hydromorphone, dihydrocodeine and prescription heroin?
I have always been a supporter of other maintenance treatments – the best possible being heroin – but recognise that this should not be for everyone and other treatments have their place. I would be supportive of most treatments that have produced evidence of benefit – on a trial basis.

You have very strong views about drug policy. Do you feel the government listens to your advice?
Governments do not do what I would like but I like to think that my voice – representing families – does contribute to their thinking – along with other valid voices in the drug and alcohol sector.

Kevin Rudd said in an interview that his policies would be evidenced based if he won the election. Do you think this will encompass our drug policy?
The Rudd government has said very little so far on illicit drugs – he’s opposed to their strong views on alcohol. We remain to see how evidence based their policies will be.

Does religion have a place in drug policy or treatment?
Drug policy or treatment or in fact any health policy should not be governed by religious views. Everyone can comment but only firm evidence should govern policy.

Do you have any predictions for the future of Australia’s drug policy?
I have a strong optimism that the next couples of generations will produce sensible drug policy reform. My guess is that eventually we will see regulated supply of most drugs but I don’t think this will happen in my lifetime.

Bronwyn Bishop chaired an enquiry called the Impact of Illicit Drug Use On Families which you were involved in. The enquiry produced a report called The Winnable War on Drugs. What did you think of it?
Rubbish – the whole thing was biased from the start, only selected individuals were taken seriously (the nutters). Attacks on very good people were common and outrageous and the labor members of that committed were piss weak

Do you feel frustrated by the public’s ignorance regarding drug myths and their willingness to accept misinformation from the government and media outlets?
I think the public are more sensible on drug issues than most people imaging. There is still a lot of denial and stigma but on the whole I think people are quite pragmatic.

Do you think the general public understand what Harm Minimisation is?
I think they are confused because of government rhetoric. Our policy is confusing because basically it is prohibition with a dash of harm reduction and is very unbalanced. We could have better education campaigns to inform the public about the logic of the policy.

South Australia banned drug paraphernalia and rejected a call to test MDMA for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Were these good decisions?
These are retrograde steps and it is very sad that South Australia is heading in this direction.

The Western Australian government is about to repeal their current cannabis laws. Is this a good idea?
These are retrograde steps and it is very sad the Western Australia is heading in this direction.

What do think of politicians being labelled ‘Soft on Drugs’ when they suggest alternatives to current drug strategies?
Politicians have to have knowledge about a wide range of issues and they cannot be expert on everything. Those who show interest in any issue should have their views respected. Politicians generally are poorly educated on drug issues.

Finally, if you were Prime Minister Tony Trimingham and you could change one law relating to drugs or drug treatment, what would it be?
A big question but a broad brush would be to regulate the supply of most drugs

Q and A: Kerry Wolf - Certified Methadone Advocate (USA)
Q and A: Dr. James Rowe - Lecturer at RMIT, School of Global Studies, Social Science & Planning
Q and A: Gino Vumbaca - Executive Director of the Australian National Council on Drugs
Q and A: Sandra Kanck - Former South Australian MLC. South Australia spokesperson for Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Harsher Cannabis Laws Means Higher User Rates

As the debate rages on about cannabis, we learn once again that tough drug laws have no effect on consumption rates. The latest report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction shows that The Netherland’s recent cannabis use is just 5.4% whilst the European average is 6.8%. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada come in at over 8%. The world average is 3.9%. I’m not sure why they don’t have exact percentages for Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. According to the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, Australia’s recent use was 9.1% which many feel is understated. Asking the public to admit to drug use while the Howard government was busy spending $millions trying to convince us that dope smokers are losers and are being targeted for arrest might have something to do with it. The 2008 official figures for the US is from SAMHSA and has recent use(12-65) at 10.3%.

These figures again raise the question ... why are some politicians pushing for harsher cannabis laws?

Note: Recent use refers to the previous 12 months.

Dutch Among Lowest Cannabis Users In Europe
November 2009

AMSTERDAM - The Dutch are among the lowest users of marijuana or cannabis in Europe despite the Netherlands' well-known tolerance of the drug, according to a regional study published on Thursday. Among adults in the Netherlands, 5.4 percent used cannabis, compared with the European average of 6.8 percent, according to an annual report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, using latest available figures.

A higher percentage of adults in Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic and France took cannabis last year, the EU agency said, with the highest being Italy at 14.6 percent. Usage in Italy used to be among the lowest at below 10 percent a decade ago.

Countries with the lowest usage rates, according to the Lisbon-based agency, were Romania, Malta, Greece and Bulgaria.

Cannabis use in Europe rose steadily during the 90s and earlier this decade, but has recently stabilised and is beginning to show signs of decline, the agency said, owing to several national campaigns to curb and treat use of the drug.

"Data from general population and school surveys point to a stabilising or even decreasing situation," the report said.

The policy on soft drugs in the Netherlands, one of the most liberal in Europe, allows for the sale of marijuana at "coffee shops", which the Dutch have allowed to operate for decades, and possession of less than 5 grams (0.18 oz).

Nearly a fifth of the 228 coffee shops in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, a popular draw for tourists, are scheduled to be shut down because they are too close to schools.

The full report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is available at r.reuters.com/vef87f

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Sophie Mirabella - Another “Tough on Drugs” Looney Lib

They’re at it again.
This is where Labor’s rhetoric once again diverges from reality. Despite declaring a pre-election “war on drugs” in 2007, the Rudd Government has largely abandoned the “Tough on Drugs” initiative that was so successful under the Howard Government.
-Sophie Mirabella - The Punch

Oh dear, those silly Libs. Always harping on about someone being “Soft on Drugs” or how the Howard government was so successful at fighting the drug scourge while the Rudd government is doing nothing.
Funding has been cut for both the Tough on Drugs initiative and the Customs and border protection services that so effectively prevented tonnes of dangerous drugs from being imported and getting to our streets.
-Sophie Mirabella - The Punch

Yes, I remember the success. Like the heroin epidemic that Howard proudly announced was beaten with help from the Australian Federal Police (AFP). At the time, heroin use did drop significantly in Australia and there was plenty of back patting and victory speeches. Amazingly, Howard’s “Tough on Drugs” policy was also working overseas and countries like Australia who were supplied heroin by Burma had a record drop in heroin use. Simply amazing! Several years later though, AFP head, Mick Kelty dropped a bombshell and explained that Burma and other S.E. Asia crime syndicates had switched to methamphetamines(ice) and ditched their heroin business. Oops. Just to rub it in, it was later revealed that the use of ice had been growing for the previous 5 years and peaked around the time the government announced that methamphetamines were starting to become a problem in Australia. By the time the media and government started screaming “Ice Epidemic”, methamphetamine use had already started to decline. The short story being that whilst the Howard government was busy taking credit for something they didn’t do, ice had slipped in unnoticed ... all on their watch.

Since the Rudd government took over, the “Tough on Drugs” campaign has taken a back seat while they focus on a much bigger problem called alcohol. This is driving the Libs crazy as they had previously defended the massive alcohol industry although it causes much more carnage on Australia than illicit drugs ever will. Sussan Ley, Jamie Briggs, Mathias Cormann, Colin Barnett, Christian Porter, Barry O'Farrell etc. have all had a go at the Rudd government for not being “Tough on Drugs”. Joining this groups of desperates is Sophie Mirabella, Liberal Party Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women & Youth. Although Sophie Mirabella is already well known as a twat, she confirmed it by writing a piece for The Punch last week. In her article, she attacked Rudd and co. for being “Soft on Crime” highlighting how they have neglected to follow up the success of the Howard government and their “Tough on Drugs” policy. Well, here’s the thing Sophie ... “Tough on Drugs” doesn’t work. When you say “Soft on Drugs”, you mean being sensible, rational and following the facts. You mean reconsidering a failed policy that has cost millions of lives around the world. You mean breaking away from the US centric "War on Drugs" that has cursed that country into having the largest rate of drug users on the planet. Like I commented on the The Punch site - “But there’s the catch. If they really believe the propaganda they spin to the public then they are dumb as a hammer but if they are rational thinking adults and know it’s not true, then they are liars. Any guesses?”. My guess is that you know damn well what’s happening but you can’t get your head around addiction being a medical issue. You see drug use as immoral except for that most dangerous of drugs, alcohol. You think we are simply not tough enough on drug users and a worldwide concerted effort will produce a drug free world. Like most nutters from the far right, you accept druggies dying or being wrongly imprisoned as an unfortunate side effect of maintaining public morality. Yes, the quest for a perfect society that gave us Hitler, apartheid, jail for homosexuals, the over throwing of democratically elected governments, the loss of civil rights, a massive prison population, the stolen generation, rampant corruption and of course, the "War on Drugs". In your world Sophie, there’s no room for science or compassion if it interferes with conservative values.
At the Annual UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March this year, our “tough” Government actually protested that the term “harm reduction” had been pointedly excluded from a political declaration – effectively betraying Labor’s real “soft on drugs” approach and putting us at odds with our traditional ally, the US.
-Sophie Mirabella - The Punch

Mirabella’s latest rant in The Punch is straight from a neocon handbook. It’s probably called How To Win Friends And Influence People (Using Fear & Lies). Neocons believe it’s okay to lie to the public if it’s in the best interest of the country and Mirabella wants to determine what that is. Who cares if it ruins lives? Who cares if it doesn’t work? And why would Mirabella criticise the government for wanting the term Harm Reduction included in the UN’s official drug policy? It is after all, part of Harm Minimisation which is Australia’s official drug policy. The reason is simple. The US have a Zero Tolerance policy for drugs and it was them who pressured the UN not to include the term Harm Reduction. As a neocon, Sophie believes the US is the motherland spreading law& order, freedom & democracy, free markets and capitalism, Christianity, family values & moral direction. There’s no place for Harm Minimisation in a US inspired world.

The "War on Drugs" has failed miserably but there are many Australian politicians who still want Australia to adopt more of the US Zero Tolerance policy. Funny enough, we actually do base most of our drug strategies on the US model with a dash of Harm Reduction. The call for tougher drug sentencing is purely political. Why would we want more of the US Zero Tolerance policy when the US has the highest level of drug use per capita in the world? Is this the “success” we want? Do we want 1 in 37 citizens in the criminal system like the US? Do we want special armed forces shooting innocent bystanders in the crossfire with drug gangs? Do we want millions of people unable to get decent jobs or receive government aid just because they once smoked pot? This is the reality of Sophie Mirabella’s suggestions but there’s no room for such inconvenient truths when you are busy spinning the “Tough on Drugs” line.
The link between illicit drug use and crime is well established and is described as “mutually reinforcing”. So if the Labor Government is tough on crime, as Minister Gillard declared, there’s a clear imperative that it also be tough on drugs.
-Sophie Mirabella - The Punch

On a final note, Sophie’s rant includes a classic anti-drug tactic that is rarely challenged by anyone - the reverse link. Making the connection between illicit drugs and crime is simple enough. You take something that is very popular like drugs and ban them. Huge demand creates extremely inflated prices and since some drugs are highly addictive, users have to regularly resort to crime to pay for them. Because they are banned and with so much money involved, the black market attracts organised crime who run the industry using violence and fear. This is called prohibition. For some reason, there are those who get it mixed up and say that the effect of drugs themselves cause users to delve into crime. Like a group of friends sitting around having a joint when suddenly one of them announces that she is going to become a dealer in illegal firearms. There is a good minute of silence before it sinks in. Under the influence of drugs, others soon declare their intentions for a criminal career as well. A bank robber, a credit card scammer and 2 car thieves. Incredible! But that’s drugs for you.

Tough On Crime Is An Empty Slogan For ALP
The Punch
by Sophie Mirabella
November 2009

The ability of Prime Minister Rudd and his Government to “talk tough” has never been in question. It’s the one thing Labor actually do well.

Remember that first heady year in office when they declared a war on virtually everything – from childhood obesity and whaling, to banker’s salaries, unemployment and even the global financial crisis itself?
Conveniently, the rhetoric has never had to bear resemblance to reality.

Julia Gillard talked tough during her faux stoush with the Unions, while at the same time delivering them unprecedented power and access in the workplace.

Wayne Swan solemnly warned of a “tough budget for tough times” before he delivered one of the biggest spending budgets in our nation’s history.

Kevin Rudd seriously claimed his changes to border security were “tough”, while at the same time creating a situation where the people smugglers are clearly back in business with a record number of illegal boats bobbing in Australian waters.

Heck, the rhetoric can even swing a full 360 degrees to suit the mood – declaring oneself an economic conservative one year, and writing a long treatise on the evils of capitalism the next.

No problem. Whatever suits perceived changes in the tide of public opinion. Whatever gets airplay. Or whatever suits as a distraction from other government failures.

The Prime Minister is currently “spinning” in India, where, just a few weeks back, Julia Gillard spent five days trying to reassure worried Indian families that Australia was a safe place, following violent incidents involving Indian students studying in Australia.

Ms Gillard declared that the Australian Government was tough on crime, adding: “We have zero tolerance towards any violence towards Indian students, any violence at all in our country.”

If only that was the case.

Just this week, in the Annual Report of the Office of Public Prosecutions, the Senior Prosecutor in Victoria Jeremy Rapke QC, accused the State’s judges of lenient sentencing, particularly in drug cases. In so many cases, these Judges have been appointed by Ms Gillard’s Labor colleagues.

Rapke rightly pointed out that the penalties imposed by Courts in drug cases continue to be inadequate having regard to the insidious effect drugs have on society and said that sentences should reflect “the huge public disquiet about the prevalence of drugs”.

The link between illicit drug use and crime is well established and is described as “mutually reinforcing”. So if the Labor Government is tough on crime, as Minister Gillard declared, there’s a clear imperative that it also be tough on drugs.

This is where Labor’s rhetoric once again diverges from reality. Despite declaring a pre-election “war on drugs” in 2007, the Rudd Government has largely abandoned the “Tough on Drugs” initiative that was so successful under the Howard Government.

Funding has been cut for both the Tough on Drugs initiative and the Customs and border protection services that so effectively prevented tonnes of dangerous drugs from being imported and getting to our streets.

At the Annual UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March this year, our “tough” Government actually protested that the term “harm reduction” had been pointedly excluded from a political declaration – effectively betraying Labor’s real “soft on drugs” approach and putting us at odds with our traditional ally, the US.

When it comes to being “tough on crime”, Labor’s own policy platform also betrays them, with Chapter 7 declaring “Labor will promote the principles of restorative justice as a just and effective way to be tough on crime.”

Restorative justice? What exactly is that? A core principle in restorative justice is to “balance offender needs, victim needs and the needs of the community as well” (Bazemore and Umbreict 1995).

Note the “offenders needs” are pretty high up on that list. And that’s the sticking point.

At its best, restorative justice gives victims of crime a voice. That’s a good thing. For first offences and petty crimes it is a method of dispute resolution that can be effective if both parties enter into the process with good will.

But more and more often the principle is being applied to serious criminal behaviour.

For judges who philosophically support restorative justice that often means keeping an offender out of jail wherever possible…the theory being that they are unable to “make amends” if confined in prison.

This is an approach pretty much at odds with the “do the crime, do the time” deterrent to criminal behaviour which has long underpinned the system and reflects the sentiment of most of the Australian community.

But leniency and the philosophical belief that “offender needs” must be considered in sentencing mean we continue to see many cases where the time simply does not fit the crime. Nor does it reflect community standards and expectations.

Many Judges, like the Labor Party itself, see the principles of restorative justice as the most “just and effective” approach. That’s certainly debatable – and I don’t have the space in this column to go into all the pros and cons. But one thing restorative justice couldn’t be described as is “tough”.

So how can Labor claim to be tough on crime when their party platform says the opposite? Moreover, and perhaps more significantly given our proud history of judicial independence, Labor are appointing more and more judges who conveniently share Labor’s “go soft” beliefs.

The Victorian State Attorney General Rob Hulls is a case in point. His appointments now make up half the State’s judiciary – among them two “Lawyers for Labor”, a former Labor candidate, and four senior officials from the left-leaning “Liberty Victoria”, along with many other “activist” Judges.

Without commenting on their individual qualifications, I do question whether their collective views are representative of mainstream values. I wonder if the balance is skewed.

As a Barrister myself, I believe it’s important for the judiciary to maintain the confidence of the public by broadly reflecting the community’s concept of “justice”.

As outlined earlier, the Senior public prosecutor in Victoria also seems to think this is important.

As evidenced in some of his appointments, the Labor State Attorney General clearly does not.

Meanwhile, half a world away, our tough talking Labor Prime Minister continues to declare his Government is “tough on crime”.

Plenty of feel-good rhetoric, but reality will inevitably bite.

For some local insight into Sophie Mirabella, check out Ray Dixon’s Alpine Opinion.

Related Articles:
Sophie Mirabella, tough on crime, the war on drugs, blather about liberal softies, and a black dull Friday the 13th indee - Loon Pond
The Liberal Party on Drugs
Jamie Briggs - The MP Who Drank the Kool Aid with Lolly Water
Liberal Party Can't Shake Off Howard's Australia
The Unwinnable War On Dickheads

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Bipartisan Politicians Aim for Permanent Injection Centre in NSW

It would be safe to assume that when The Christian Democratic Party, Drug Free Australia (DFA), the right wing media and silly conservative politicians agree on a drug related initiative then we should probably take the opposite approach. Even more so when there is ample scientific evidence that the initiative is a success. For 8 years now, the NSW government has been stalling the decision to make the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross permanent because of nutty, anti-drug warriors like DFA, John Howard, Fred Nile, Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman, Andrew Bolt, Peter Debnam, Christopher Pyne etc. But is that about to change? According to Andrew Potts of the Sydney Star Observer, there might be action on the horizon.

Political Support For Injecting Centre
By Andrew M Potts
Sydney Star Observer
November 2009

Politicians both state and federal and from across the political divide have come together to support a call to make the Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) a permanent part of NSW Health’s response to drugs.

Members of the Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform gave their unanimous support for a motion in favour of the Centre moved by the federal Independent Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott.

“In accepting the valuable research and evaluation findings, this representative group of the members of Australian parliaments asks the NSW Government to expedite the end of the eight-year trial status of the MSIC and incorporate the centre and its service into the health programs delivered by NSW Health, due to the demonstrated benefits to individuals, families and the community,” the motion read.

“This is a cross-parliamentary, cross-party group that relies on an evidence-based approach to drug laws in Australia, not a sloganeering-based approach,” Oakeshott said.

“The overwhelming evidence from studies throughout the world tells us that supervised injecting facilities have been shown to reduce needle and syringe sharing, reduce sickness and death from drug overdose and increase uptake in drug treatment programs.”

Oakeshott said the Kings Cross centre has delivered a value to the surrounding area of over 30 times its running costs through reducing the associated harms of drug use.

“Perhaps of greatest significance is the finding that nearly three-quarters of residents and business operators in Kings Cross continue to support the Sydney MSIC,” he said.

The Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform will now seek meetings with Premier Nathan Rees and NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt, as well as NSW Liberals leader Barry O’Farrell.

O’Farrell has previously pledged to close the centre.

The Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform is co-chaired by the Liberals’ Dr Mal Washer and the Labor Member for Fowler, Julia Irwin.

In recent years The Daily Telegraph and abstinence-only drug group Drug-Free Australia have called for the centre’s closure.