Monday, 18 January 2010

2009 in Review

What a way to finish the decade!

Walt Disney’s grandson on drug charges, China executes a mentally ill drug smuggler - the first European to be put to death in China in 50 years, Pete Doherty again caught with heroin, Drugs found at St Kilda Rd police headquarters, another Australian arrested with drugs in Bali, Brittany Murphy dies from prescription drugs, another Home and Away star is caught using cocaine, UK prison guards unwittingly allowed a convicted drug dealer to grow marijuana in his cell - and even decorate the four-foot plant as a Christmas tree, Victoria Police announce that motorists having any trace of illegal drugs will be fined and have their driver’s licence suspended, Queensland doctors will be required to dob in colleagues suspected of illegal drug use, Charlie Sheen is on drugs again, heroin laced with anthrax kills 3 and most shockingly ... an Adelaide man spent his Federal Government stimulus payment on drugs.

Not surprisingly on the last night of the decade, the cops and sniffer dogs will be out in force to catch those dangerous party people taking party drugs like ecstasy, speed, pot and cocaine. The target is Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, where Sensation, the largest dance party in Australia is being held. Once you get past the moral police, you’re free to then tank up on as much booze as you want. Last year, 10 people overdosed out of a crowd of 38,200. I wonder what the alcohol overdose number was?
We are not out to dampen celebrations. Our primary aim is to ensure that those attending have a safe and enjoyable night
-Operation Commander Inspector Stephen Beith
Of course that’s smelly horse shit. If they were really concerned they would allow a pill testing booth and restrict alcohol.

So where are we at the end of 2009? In brief, the US is motor scooting ahead towards cannabis legalisation while Australia is fighting the tide and going backwards. Latin America seems to be leading the pack with drug decriminalisation followed by a progressive Europe. Russia and Asia are firmly stuck in the 1980s.

Looking back on 2009, like any other year, brings back memories of the good, bad and indifferent. The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March should have been the highlight but as predicted was a tad early for too much radical change. After the failure to meet any goals set at the last UNGASS meeting in 1998, many were optimistic that a more rational and logical plan would be drafted. But the meeting was once again hijacked by the US and fellow prohibitionists including the head of the UNODC, Antonio Costa. However, there were major cracks appearing and this is probably the last of prohibition as we know it. Just for the record, the 1998 meeting produced the slogan, "A Drug-Free World - We Can Do It" and set about to wipe out all drug crops - from marijuana to opium to coca - by 2008. Not only didn’t they reach their goals but their projections went backwards. Drug use increased, more crops were planted and the black market continued to explode.

The Year of the PADDs
It’s been an interesting year for PADDs or Passive Alert Drug Detection dogs as they are now called. Even after the NSW ombudsman in 2006 concluded that the dogs were not very successful and they regularly violate the right of all citizens to be free from arbitrary search and detention, the police simply made some minor changes and ramped up their use. The report from the ombudsman said:
•73% of people identified by the dogs are not carrying drugs
•Most drugs detected are small amounts of cannabis
•Dogs are failing to detect drug dealers
In February, the unthinkable happened. 17-year-old Gemma Thoms died after collapsing at the Big Day Out music festival after she swallowed several ecstasy tablets to avoid detection by drug dogs. The response from the WA Premier and WA police commissioner was disgusting with them both dodging any blame. Gemma’s death was even used for political gain with the police commissioner attacking the Greens after they went public with the news that they had regularly warned the government that such an incident would happen.
I extend my sincere condolences to Gemma’s family, but I cannot allow misinformed people like NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale and the Youth Affairs Council of WA’s Executive Officer Lisa Laschon to apportion blame on police for this tragedy.

Police do not accept responsibility for this death.

Some of their propositions are quite frankly absurd and suggest that police should turn a blind eye, do nothing about drug possession, and ignore the State’s laws regarding illegal drugs.

Police in this state will not be modifying their tactics when it comes to people who use or deal in illegal drugs, and I believe the community of Western Australia supports that approach.

Both the State and Federal Governments put a great deal of effort into drug awareness and education, and for their part police will continue to target both drug dealers and users.

Operations such as that in relation to the Big Day Out will continue.
-Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan
PADDs are now a common sight around some train stations and entertainment areas. As you would expect, the reports of abuse and over zealous cops are coming in as more polished spin is applied to the problem. But some cops are having a hard time justifying to themselves the use of sniffer dogs and other weapons in the "War on Drugs". LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is an organisation made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of existing drug policies. They now have over 15,000 members including police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens, FBI and DEA agents and others.

It was one the year’s high points when LEAP member, Dr. Norm Stamper was brought out to Australia by Dr Alex Wodak, the President of the ADLRF. Norm’s busy schedule included various debates, group talks and media engagements to discuss sensible drug policy. The main feature of Norm’s visit was to be part of the Australia Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House, where he was part of a discussion titled: "All Forms of Drug Use Should Be Made Legal". His team included Greg Barns and Dr. Alex Wodak.

I must say his itinerary was the busiest I have ever seen. 93 appointments in 28 days! Try and get your head around the following 28 day schedule.

Norm Stamper’s Australian Schedule:
October 27, Canberra, Australia Presentation to Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform, Annual Meeting
October 27, Canberra, Australia Meeting with Mal Washer, MP, Chair, Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform
October 27, Canberra, Australia Meeting with Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens
October 27, Canberra, Australia Meeting with Kay Hull, Member of Parliament
October 27, Canberra, Australia Interview with West Australian
October 27, Canberra, Australia Interview with Sydney Morning Herald
October 26, Canberra, Australia Public Meeting, ACT Legislative Assembly London Circuit
October 26, Canberra, Australia Meeting with The Hon. Duncan Kerr, MP, and The Hon. Mal Washer, Chair of Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform, Commonwealth Parliament House
October 26, Canberra, Australia Meeting with Mr. Richard Pieper, Crime Manager, Drugs, Australian Federal Police
October 26, Canberra, Australia Presentation to Center of Excellence in Policing and Security, Australian National University
October 26, Canberra, Australia Discussion at Australian Injecting Users League
October 25, Cooma, Australia Return trip to Canberra
October 24, Cooma, Australia Dinner with Rotarians
October 24, Cooma, Australia Presentation to Rotary International Conference
October 23, Canberra, Australia Dinner with Drug Policy Reformers
October 23, Canberra, Australia Meeting with senior officials, Department of Health and Aging
October 23, Canberra, Australia Meeting with senior officials, ACT Government
October 23, Canberra, Australia Presentation to Australian Crime Commission
October 23, Canberra, Australia Meeting with Australian Federal Police, Headquarters
October 22, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to QulHN/QulVVA, Fortitude Valley
October 22, Brisbane, Australia Meeting with Lee and Chris Rush (re: son Scott on death row in Bali)
October 22, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to QulHN/QulVVA, Fortitude Valley
October 21, Brisbane, Australia Dinner with Drug Policy Reformers
October 21, Currumbin, Australia Visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
October 21, Brisbane, Australia Lecture at Law School, University of Queensland
October 21, Brisbane, Australia Meeting with Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and senior staff
October 20, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to 1800 Annual Gen'l. Mtg. Qld Council of Civil Liberties, Irish Club
October 20, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to Rotary and Chamber of Commerce, Fortitude Valley
October 20, Brisbane, Australia Meeting with Members of State Parliament, Old Parliament House
October 19, Brisbane, Australia Dinner with Brisbane Drug Policy Reformers
October 19, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to Biala Needle & Syringe Programme
October 19, Brisbane, Australia Presentation to Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Edu. Ctr, University of Queensland
October 19, Brisbane, Australia Meeting with John Herron, Chair, Australian National Council on Drugs
October 16, Perth, Australia Presentation to Public Meeting, Royal Park Hall, North Perth
October 16, Perth, Australia Meeting with WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin, former Chair of Law Reform Commission
October 16, Perth, Australia Meeting with Roger Cook, WA Shadow Minister for Heath and Paul Papalia, Shadow Minister for Corrective Services
October 16, Perth, Australia Presentation at Western Australia Substance Users Association
October 16, Perth, Australia Interview with ABC Radio
October 16, Perth, Australia Testimony to WA Legislative Assembly, Education and Health Standing Committee on Adequacy and Appropriateness of Prevention and Treatment Services
October 15, Perth, Australia Dinner with Drug Policy Reformers
October 15, Perth, Australia Presentation to National Drug Research Institute Seminar, Curtin University of Technology
October 15, Perth, Australia Interview with ABC WA Statewide
October 15, Perth, Australia Meeting with Police Minister Rob Johnson
October 15, Perth, Australia Lecture at Edith Cowan University, Joondalup Campus
October 15, Perth, Australia Meeting with Assistant Police Commissioner (Traffic & Ops) Mr. Shayne Maynes
October 14, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Mr. Brett Curran, Chief of Staff to Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Corrections
October 14, Melbourne, Australia Presentation to Harm Reduction and D&A Workers, Moonee Valley Civic Centre
October 14, Melbourne, Australia Presentation to Lord Mayor and Moonee Valley City Councillors
October 14, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with City of Melbourne City Issues Team
October 13, Melbourne, Australia Meeting at Convenience Advertising
October 13, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Victorian Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary, and other leaders
October 13, Melbourne, Australia Video interview, Institute of Public Affairs
October 13, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Acting Chief Police Commissioner Kieran Walshe and senior staff
October 13, Melbourne, Australia Presentation to Office of Police Integrity and Victorian Police Force Officers
October 12, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Wade Noonan, MP at Parliament House
October 12, Melbourne, Australia Testify at Victorian Parliamentary Joint Houses, Investigatory Drug and Crime Prevention Committee
October 12, Melbourne, Australia Lecture, Monash University, Clayton Campus
October 12, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Senior Officials, Victoria Police Association, Brian Rix, President
October 12, Melbourne, Australia Meeting with Police Commissioner the Hon. Bob Cameron
October 12, Melmbourne, Australia Interview with ABC Morning Show, John Fain
October 11, Melbourne, Australia Private briefing dinner with Bill Noonan, OAM National Men's Health Ambassador
October 10, Melbourne, Australia dinner with Davis Stanley and family
October 10, Sydney, Australia, Interview with Kate Pinnock, Jailbreak 2SER
October 9, Sydney, Australia Dinner with Dr. Alex Wodak, et al
October 9, Sydney, Australia Presentation to Users and Health Workers and AIDS Assoc.
October 9, Sydney, Australia Video interview with User's News
October 9, Sydney, Australia Interview with Australian Police Journal, Sr. Sgt. Victoria Williams
October 9, Sydney, Australia Interview with Hungry Beasts (Zapruder's Other Films/ABC)
October 9, Sydney, Australia Interview with Fiveaa (Adelaide talk radio)
October 9, Sydney, Australia Presentation to Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Australia-NZ-wide videoconference
October 8, Sydney, Australia Presentation to Centre for Independent Studies, St. Leonards
October 8, Sydney, Australia Discussion with Deputy Lord Mayor of City of Sydney Ms. Marcelle Hoff, Councillors and Advisors
October 8, Sydney, Australia Lecture, University of New South Wales Law School
October 8, Sydney, Australia Interview with NSW Police News, Nicola Silva
October 8, Sydney, Australia Roundtable discussion, Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, national video linkup
October 7, Sydney, Australia Briefing to City of Sydney "Safe City Unit" and Local Area Police Commanders
October 7, Sydney, Australia Tour of St. Vincents Hospital Alcohol and Drug Services
October 7, Sydney, Australia Meeting with Detective Superintendent Tony Cook, Commander Drug and Alcohol Coordination
October 7, Sydney, Australia Interview with World Today ABC Radio, Shane McLeod
October 7, Sydney, Australia Lecture, University of Technology, "Principles of Forensic Science," law students
October 6, Sydney, Australia Visit to Medically Supervised Injecting Centre, Kings Cross
October 6, Sydney, Australia Meeting with Rev. Harry Herbert, Executive Director, UnitingCare
October 6, Sydney, Australia Meeting with Philip Kelley, Policy Advisor to Minister for Police and Mike Bailey, Policy Advisor to Attorney General and Minister for Justice
October 6, Sydney, Australia Lunch at Parliament House Dinning Room with Drug Policy Reformers
October 6, Sydney, Australia Lecture, NSW Parliament House for State Government representatives
October 5, Sydney, Australia Interview with Tony Jones, "Lateline," ABC Studios
October 5, Sydney, Australia Meeting with Dr. Wodak and Leah McLeod
October 4, Sydney, Australia Dinner with Dr. Alex Wodak
October 4, Sydney, Australia Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Panel: "All Forms of Drug Use Should Be Made Legal," Sydney Opera House
September 30, Herald Sun (Australia), phone interview with Alan Howe
September 29, Seattle Weekly, phone interview with Nina Shapiro
September 29, Conference call with Drug Policy Alliance
September 29, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Interview with Michael Duffy

Australian Politics
On the downside in the global push for rational drug laws in 2009, Australia showed the world how far our narrow minded politicians were prepared to go when enforcing their ideology on the people. WA led the revolt, turning back the hands of time that delighted conservatives everywhere. I imagine the likes of John Howard were just thrilled to see any drug policy progress being ripped out of the history books by absolute morons like WA Premier, Colin Barnett and WA Attorney General, Christian Porter. The standout act of stupidity involved repealing state cannabis laws that had actually led to a drop in use. WA’s cannabis laws were once hailed as one of the best drug policies around the globe where possession of up to 30 grams, two non-hydro plants, or smoking equipment only attracted a fine of up to $200 with an option to attend a cannabis education session. In their wisdom, Barnett and co. are pushing through a bill that will lower the amount to 10 grams and excluded growing any plants. Those caught for possession will have to pay a fine and attend compulsory treatment within 30 days or face jail. Fines for selling drug paraphernalia will increase to $5000 for sales to an adult and up to $10,000 for sales to a minor.

It’s probably no surprise that they blatantly lied about why they increased penalties for cannabis.
Research continues to show that cannabis can lead to a host of health and mental health problems including schizophrenia, and can be a gateway to harder drugs
-WA Premier, Colin Barnett
During 2009, pushing the old “Tough on Drugs” rhetoric was constant by most of the Coalition and other dorky politicians from Labor, The Christian Democrats and Family First. Shadow Minister for Customs and Justice, Sussan Ley had 104 media releases in 2009 with nearly a third of them mentioning illicit drugs. While Sophie Mirabella MP was Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare, Women and Youth, she had 4 media releases and wrote at least one news article about the Rudd Government putting our youth in danger to illicit drugs. Then there was Jamie Briggs, Nick Goiran, Mike Gallacher, Mike Horan, Barry O'Farrell etc. demanding everything from banning the term “recreational drugs” to mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. Not one new idea amongst any of them. Nearly every demand has been tried locally or overseas for decades without any success whatsoever. Declaring you are “Tough on Drugs” has always been a sure vote winner but without any positive outcomes ever being realised, the cries of “won’t someone think of the children” or “we must get tough on the drug scourge” just becomes hollow rhetoric.

There were many swipes made at the Rudd government throughout the year for ignoring the "War on Drugs" and focussing too much on Alcohol. There were even calls to revisit The Bishop Report: “The Winnable War on Drugs”. After 11 years of Howard’s “Tough on Drugs” rhetoric which gave our 2nd biggest killer drug a pass, The Rudd government should be congratulated for finally targeting booze. And target booze it did. This was not some 6 month anti-drug campaign aimed at pleasing parents and moral crusaders but a conscious decision to change our drinking culture over the next few decades. The alcohol industry was accustomed to the previous government making excuses like the claim that drinking is an important part of society which provides many jobs etc. but all the crying in the world was not going to change Rudd’s mind. Such a powerful lobby group not used to loosing were not going to let something as trivial as government policy or the health of our nation get in their way. They simply produced their own statistics which were readily lapped up by the lazy media.

The Alcopops war raged on as the public started to learn more and more about the damage caused by alcohol, especially with violence. Not to miss a trick, the trash media turned up the heat on alcohol violence as well and soon it was a national problem with opinion writers, sport journalists, Neil Mitchells, state premiers and police ministers stumbling over each other to decry this scourge. The more the media reported it, the more the public demanded action ... the politicians were happy to oblige. More police, 2am lock outs, advertising campaigns, a freeze on late-night liquor licences, electronic ID and databases of thugs and even a weekend police blitz covering the whole of Australia and New Zealand. This was also a great opportunity to squeeze in some blame on drugs. Have you ever wondered why during a crackdown on alcohol and street violence that drug sniffer dogs are so prominent? WA again led the drug warriors into war with a new proposed bill for “stop and search” laws. The bill would give police the power to search people for weapons in entertainment precincts without proving grounds for suspicion. Coincidentally, it also includes searching for drugs. Yes, those dangerous party people, hugging and dancing their way through the troubled Perth suburb of Northbridge were just too much for Christian Porter and Colin Barnett to handle.

Strangely enough, the “Ice Epidemic” stopped making the headlines in 2009 as the main cause of substance induced violence. Yes, that nasty, frightening drug called ice, that caused users to rip apart emergency departments, had magically disappeared. Now, everywhere you look, the problem of alcohol aggression is being analysed by someone whipping the public into a frenzy. Is it a coincidence that a few years ago, a hospital worker reported that upper management had been convinced to blow their whole department budget on a safety room to deal with crazed ice addicts only to later reveal that the room had just been used a few times in 12 months ... for aggressive drunks.

Alcohol was the much needed “epidemic” of 2009 and probably will be in 2010. Scaremongers like the media and politicians will make sure of it. With all this frenzy over alcohol violence, there was only one problem ... violent crime has actually been decreasing since 2000!
The public's perception is that violence is increasing, but trends in violent crime reported to police since the early 1990s reveal a mixed story. Homicide has decreased by nine percent since 1990 and armed robbery by one-third since 2001, but recorded assaults and sexual assaults have both increased steadily in the past 10 years by over 40 percent and 20 percent respectively. The rate of aggravated assault appears to have contributed to the marked rise in recorded assault, and for both assault and sexual assault the rate of increase was greater for children aged under 15 years, with increases almost double that of the older age group. Neither population changes among young adult males nor rates of offending seem to explain the trends in recorded violent crime, and indicators of change in reporting to police provide only a partial explanation. Based on self-reported victimisation and reporting to police, it would seem increased reporting of assault is somewhat responsible for the rise in recorded assault rates against adult victims.
-Judy Putt: General Manager, Research - Australian Institute of Criminology
There was a lot more good news overseas than in Australia. Germany passed into law, heroin assisted treatment (HAT) after a successful 4 year trial. Denmark concluded that there was enough evidence already to implement a HAT program without the need for a local scientific study, Both Canada and The UK had major successes with their own heroin trials. Mexico and The Czech Republic decriminalised small amounts of all drugs and a report by Glenn Greenwald of the CATO Institute showed that after 8 years of similar drug decriminalisation in Portugal, drug use had actually decreased while those seeking treatment increased. In the US, the effects of a new, saner president were being felt as the DEA were told not to raid medical marijuana dispensaries and the ban on federal funding for needle exchanges was lifted. 15 US states now support medical marijuana with another 20 considering it. 6 states have bills proposing full legalisation. The DEA were also hit for a six when the American Medical Association(AMA) released a statement that medical marijuana was indeed real and for the DEA to re-evaluate the classing of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug.
The American Medical Association urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines and alternate delivery methods
- The American Medical Association (AMA)
Instead of updating the DEA website titled, Exposing the Myth of Smoked Medical Marijuana by replacing the previous AMA denial of medical benefits from cannabis with the new update, the DEA just deleted any reference to the new AMA statement. To make matters worse, the DEA didn’t change their website until they were hounded by LEAP via an email campaign. But the shifty DEA are fanatical and will stoop to any level to push their propaganda. One website, stealthily owned by the DEA, Just Think Twice, kept the link to a now defunct 2001 report from the AMA that marijuana should be retained as a Schedule I drug. The AMA had to put up a special note on their own website that they had changed their position.

Mexico dominated the bad news overseas in 2009 as the war between the drug cartels and authorities continued. The media was kept busy with shocking stories and pictures that exemplified the core failure of the "War on Drugs". Drug prohibition creates so much money that not even a country like Mexico can compete with the local crime cartels. Over 49,000 troops are deployed across Mexico including contributions from the US but still the 6 major cartels reap in billions each year. Since the Mexican government announced a crack down in 2006, 15,000 people have died including many innocent civilians.

China also made the news a few times with the execution of prisoners on drug charges. As more westerners are being caught with drugs overseas, the issue of the death penalty is finally being given some media time. To celebrate International Anti-Drug day, China executed 20 people convicted of`drug offences including several foreigners.

March 2009 figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, show that 970 Australians were arrested abroad in 2008-2009, and 507 are serving time in foreign prisons. Overseas arrests have increased by 38 per cent in the past five years with most charges related to drug offences. The CourierMail was unable to resist this moral outrage and wrote an article warning us about the tough laws overseas.
Laws All Aussie Tourists Should Know

• Penalties for drug trafficking and possession are severe and include the death penalty
• Gambling is illegal and the penalty is deportation
• The penalty for masturbation is decapitation
WTF??! ... The penalty for masturbation is decapitation? Wanting to confirm this, I referenced my trusty old copy of The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. Nope ... No surprises here ... it wasn’t true.

Schapelle Corby remained in the news frequently as her mental state deteriorated. The year started off like it was going to be a bit more bearable for Schapelle with a request to the jail authorities to start a beauty school for the female inmates. As usual though, the lowlife Murdoch Press gave the dog whistle and the hate mongers came running. The readers section quickly filled with the typical cruel, vile comments we have come to expect from bogans reading the Daily Telegraph, Adelaide Advertiser, HeraldSun, CourierMail etc. Not long after, the pressure took it’s toll and Schapelle was again hospitalised with major depression. Once more, the bogans came crawling out of their sewerage pits as the Murdoch press started again on Schapelle.

I feel for the families of Schapelle Corby, The Bali Nine and others in overseas prisons for drug offences. Most of these prisons are not fit for animals with cruelty, disease and corruption being commonplace. It must be beyond description how they would feel seeing their loved ones in such conditions. Fuck these countries and their sovereignty. I’m sick of comments in the opinion pages saying that we should respect the laws of other countries and their sovereignty. Just like I’m sick of that constant redneck chant, “do the crime - do the time”. These people are doomed to spend decades of their life in sub-human conditions, often for drug offences that are hugely out-of-sync with civilised countries.

Questionable Raids, Shonky Figures and other Bizarre Events
Like every year, there are some completely bizarre stories that hit the papers. Like the drug raid by police at the Cheech and Chong show in Sydney. Up to 25 officers and 4 cannabis canines not only searched the crowd and the queue at the door but went to local pubs and the train station looking for dangerous 50+ year old criminals. The NSW police wasted tens of thousands of dollars, catching 6 middle age parents with small amounts of cannabis. They were all let off with a caution.

The Cheech and Chong show was just one in a series of many raids from police last year. And according to the police, nearly every raid was upsetting the drug trade in Australia and having a huge impact on illicit drug supplies. One such blitz in SA dubbed “Operation Dial” proclaimed their success especially in the South East region of SA around Mt. Gambier:
South East police snared several alleged offenders during the statewide anti-drug campaign Operation Dial on the weekend.

The crackdown, involving 250 police officers across South Australia, saw the region’s police make one arrest and several reports of illicit substance possession, sale and cultivation.

Aided by Customs officials, Mount Gambier CIB arrested a local woman for taking part in the alleged sale of methyl amphetamine, while Naracoorte police issued three fines for possession of cannabis and related equipment, a drug diversion for amphetamine possession and reported persons for the sale of prescription drugs.

Keith police also reported one man for cultivating two cannabis plants.

South East operations manager Sergeant Andy Stott said he was pleased with the results.
-Border Watch(Local newspaper for Mt. Gambier in SE South Australia)
While the massive drug busts around Australia, totalling hundreds of millions of dollars were having very little effect on drug availability, comparatively small operations were being hailed as successful. I lost count how many times the police said they were “sending a message to drugs dealers”, “stopping the flow of illegal drugs” or “putting a huge dent” in local drug markets. Like “Operation Dial”, that for the whole of SA, confiscated 9kg of cannabis, 193 cannabis plants, 9g heroin, 11g cocaine, 12g amphetamine and 93 ecstasy tablets with a supposed street value of about $60,000.
South Australia Police will continue with dedicated operations such as Operation Dial to target the detection and seizure of illicit drugs and those associated with drug related offences. The result from Operation Dial sends a very clear message about the way we view the illicit drug trade and our efforts to get these drugs off the streets.
-Detective Superintendent Scott Duval, officer in charge of the Drug Investigation Branch
The hard drugs in reality, are worth only $11,000. 9Kgs of cannabis is worth about $25,000 which leaves the plants making up the remaining $24,000. Yep, $11,000 worth of hard drugs off the street will send shock-waves through SA. And of course, the 13 arrests, 39 reports and 53 cannabis expiation notices might just cripple the drug industry completely. I wonder what Superintendent Scott Duval was thinking when he went on to say:
It's not so much about the dollar value, it's the harm these drugs cause
-Detective Superintendent Scott Duval, officer in charge of the Drug Investigation Branch
Earlier in the year, not only were Queensland police also stopping the flow of drugs onto the streets but weapons as well with 11 people arrested for a total of 22 charges. “Operation Mamba” was a success!
We believe we've obstructed a number of individual suppliers of drugs ... and it's obviously resulted in some type of reduction of the flow of drugs onto the street.
-Sergeant Laurie Shevlin. Gold Coast Police
What was this big bust reported in the media that reduced the supply of drugs and weapons onto Queensland streets? “Operation Mamba” netted a grand total of 120 grams of pot. Note that it is grams not kilograms and 120 grams at the full street price of $25 each is $3,000. And the weapons? A taser stun gun ... AND ... a baton ... AND ... a slingshot.

The year of the PADD was probably most noted for PADDs at music festivals. Right up until the last night of 2009, there were warnings that anyone taking drugs into public music festivals and dance parties were going to get caught. 50 caught here, 80 caught somewhere else ... the number of people caught with ecstasy, speed, LSD and cannabis were mounting up. But when compared with the total audiences approaching the million mark, several hundred arrests is just piddley. This raises the question ... what’s the point? The simple answer is publicity. Most of the public are now under the impression that anyone taking drugs into music festivals are bound to get caught. It keeps the parents happy I suppose.

The Australian Heroin Diaries
The readership rose again for 2009 and is approaching dizzy heights although my family are sick of leaving anonymous comments. I have noticed a lot more hits from Canberra, government departments and strange countries. Stuffed if I know what that all means? I also noticed several active readers who visit at least once a day but I don’t know who they are. Maybe you could drop me an email or comment? Another increase in hits came from the police. Several states checked in including the Australian Federal Police (AFP) but I haven’t been dragged away screaming yet. They could be plotting a national effort though or even arranging a plane for Egypt where they can question me properly. I’ll have to wait and see.

The 2 most common search requests though are “Chinese executions” and “What does heroin feel like”. I still receive hundreds of hits each month for my June 2009 article, Mass Executions - How China Celebrates Anti-Drug Day. Sadly, it seems it’s not for my salubrious writing skills but for the pics I lifted borrowed from another site called About 75% of the Chinese execution hits come via the image searching facility from Google. But the most amount of hits for a text search is via “What does heroin feel like” or similar.

One thing I was not expecting was an award. Jeepers. The Australian Heroin Diaries was chosen as one of the top 8 blogs in 2009 by - This is a news driven blog, that writes about and commentates on different countries drug policies. The author is a recovering heroin addict which gives a unique view and a much different one from politicians on drug politics. A must read for anyone interested in the politics of drug use and substance abuse.
Unfortunately there was no prize money but I am willing to sell my award if anyone is interested. Any takers? I can photoshop out “The Australian Heroin Diaries” and put your name there instead if needed.

What Does It All Mean?
The future for drug law reform looks bright for once. Hopefully, at the next UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in 10 years time, prohibition will be just another dirty mark on history like alcohol prohibition is. Cannabis is only a year or 2 away from finally being legalised somewhere although it won’t be Australia. Amazingly, it will probably be the US that first steps out triggering the dominoes to fall in rapid succession. Decriminalisation will also continue be taken up by many countries over the next few years. Aside from that, heroin assisted treatment (HAT) will become more common with Australia at the top of the list.

Resistance will come from the usual suspects - politicians, conservative media loudmouths, religion and moral crusaders. Science and evidence based government policies are the key to success but anti-drug zealots will attempt to muddle logic with family values, morals and “think of the children” type drug hysteria. Not much different to how it happens today.

Ultimately, the public gets smarter every year about complex issues like drugs and as the population ages, almost all of society will have experienced drugs at least once in their life. The typical propaganda and exaggeration that we are currently bombarded with is already being questioned by a large cross section of the community, That will only grow as the truth always comes out in the end. I pity the children and grand children of hard-liners who will have to face the history books with family members being exposed as dangerous liars who ignored the facts for personal gain resulting in the death and misery of many thousands.

The biggest local issue will be what the Rudd government does with drug policy. Apart from the $20 million one-strike illicit drugs policy for sporting codes, spending $18 million on a rehashed advertising campaign from the previous government and the recent media release stating that $4 million will be dished out for tracking drug use and trends, there has been no major drug policy announced. With the push for another heroin trial and calls to establish medical marijuana provisions, it will be interesting to see if Kev’s promise of evidence based policy will prevail.


TerminallyUniq said...

WOW! Loads of great stuff here, so to make just a few comments: I love that in Australia you have an Injecting Users League...quite sure we have nothing of the sort in the States (or if we do, it's certainly a clandestine group without an official name). Also, off the main topic, but I MUST come there and go to the Sensation, the dance party of the YEAR; it sounds so fun!!!! Have you ever gone?

On a serious note, it's really sad about the girl who felt she had to swallow all that ecstacy to avoid police capture, and thus died. It's sad the way that users of even the smallest or most infrequent (hey, it was New Year's party!!!) substances -- let alone those with an active ADDICTION, a SICKNESS, have to be hunted, chased by DOGS, and criminalized, dehumanized. It is very much the same here, everyday in the news.

Yes, there are a few states with a few very limited access laws for "medical marijuana," but we have a loooong way to go to change the majority of my country's minds.

Jason said...

Congrats on the award Terry. I drop by most days.

ileum said...

Hi Terry,

Great wrap up. I check in a few times a week and don't always comment. Congratulations on the award, you deserve it.

How does it go? The war (on drugs) could be over if you want it. We don't want any more victims from the war on drugs like Gemma Thoms.

Terry Wright said...

Thanks TU for your comments.
I'm way too old for Sensation and my music preferences don't include dance music. Give me some Faith No More or Alice in Chains and I might bang my tired old head but that's it.

Yes, it's very sad about Gemma Thoms who panicked about the drug dogs and died from taking all her pills. You are right - it all seems so barbaric that in our so called advanced society, we hunt down drug users with dogs and jail them.

Jason and Ileum.
Thanks for the congratulations on the award and for dropping by so often. It's you guys that keep this blog going.

Anonymous said...

Dont know what to say. I just love your blog. I'm reading through your posts right now. So you'll see me drop by quite often.

It makes me sad and gives me chills thinking about Gemma. I can totally relate to the panic she must've had.