Just how far will anti-drug and anti-harm minimisation pundits go to push their agenda? Read on as Paul Gallagher examines how some groups and individuals are bombarding us with flawed, cherry picked data as they attempt to influence drug policy.
The Deceitful World of Anti-Drug Zealots
The Deceitful World of Anti-Drug Zealots
A special report for The Australian Heroin Diaries
By Paul Gallagher
By Paul Gallagher
On February 2nd, an email appeared on the ADCA Update list from Jo Baxter, Executive Officer of the Australian branch of Drug Freedom, Drug Free Australia Inc. In line with the reality that Drug Free is Evidence Free, Jo had taken issue with Alex Wodak's insightful piece Agony over Ecstasy is helping no-one . It examined the arrest of Matthew Chesher, a suddenly erstwhile official in the NSW government and hubby to state minister Verity Firth, for purchasing an Ecstasy tablet.
Alex, Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St. Vincent's hospital Sydney, had returned from Lisbon, Portugal ten days prior and naturally included their now proven decriminalisation policy in his article. Jo wanted readers to get the real facts, and directed us, quite naturally one supposes, to Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - The Real Facts!. Uh-oh, I cringed. An exclamation mark - the conspiracy theorists secret handshake - and "wfad" in the URL.
What could it be? Decriminalisation causes autism? Portuguese stoners were behind 9/11? Not going to jail makes one more violent than video games? I braced myself and was rewarded with text book crap, ducking and weaving, thundering away at the evidence. The author was a moron, a crackpot even given his opinionated ramblings. He belonged on the World Forum Against Drugs site.
In recent and delightful forays into the twilight world of anti-vaccination conspiracies, I became acquainted with Scopie's Law. The anti-vaccination brigade are gullible in the extreme shirking reality - never mind evidence - in their quest to shift universal facts, including history, physics, geology, medicine, etc. Scopie's Law originated on the Bad Science forum thanks to Rich Scopie and states;
In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately ...and gets you laughed out of the room.
It also includes "Answers in Genesis" to argue Creationism, or Educate-yourself.org. With respect to The World Forum Against Drugs, a strong case can be made to include it also. At least in our busy world, and given the importance of drug policy, it seems we find ourselves faced with the need for an equally efficient device. This is entirely due to time wasting to stem from balderdash published there solely to convey a negative view, couched in phoney "scientific" terms, of all manner of progressive policy initiatives. Not least, illicit drug decriminalisation in Portugal by Drug Free, prohibition worshipping, anti-drug proponents who also present archaic, brutal notions as rosy.
The text of Decriminalisation of Drugs in Portugal - The Real Facts!, Manuel Pinto Coelho (Chairman of APLD - Association for a Drug Free Portugal and member of International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy) - Feb. 2010, was published in a slightly updated form in Replies to Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal, October 2010, BMJ. He really shouldn't have continued the farce. Because three months prior the 2008 figures on Portugal were published, leaving him scant, if any pickings indeed.
As usual without a cursory bibliography it is difficult to confirm or deny the context of such sweeping statements, particularly as they are presented without trend or comparison. Citing the European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction 2007, a number of claims are made. A quick search for the "Observatory" yields only the same articles by Coelho, and indeed The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The Observatory is mentioned in the Nov. 2003 Congressional Record USA, Vol 149, under "Intervention of the delegation of The Holy See", and a nice little reference to Pope John Paul II. Perhaps he meant the EMCDDA. Either way, it does him no good.
Some of his claims include;
In 2006, the total number of deaths as a consequence of overdose did not diminish radically compared to 2000, nor did the percentage of drug addicts with AIDS decrease significantly (from 57% to 43%). The opposite occurred.
"The opposite occurred"? Page 48 of EMCDDA 2006 data, gives us some clarity on changing trends over time;
Data from the GMR (Selection B of the DRD Protocol) continue to indicate a decrease which started to take place from 1996 (114 cases) until 2005 (9 cases). The number of cases implies that breakdown data on them ceased to be available for statistics privacy reasons.
Although acute drug-related deaths are not yet possible to identify amongst the cases reported by the SMR, it has been possible to identify the percentage of suspected acute drug-related deaths. In 2006, 216 cases with positive post mortem toxicological tests were reported by the Special Register. A figure close to the one registered in 2005 (219) but an increase in comparison to previous years (156 on 2002, 152 in 2003 and 156 in 2004). 52% of the cases with positive toxicological tests and information on the presumed aetiology of death were suspected to be acute drug-related deaths. This percentage, which decreased between 2000 and 2003, increased in 2004 to 51% and again in 2005 to 58%, in comparison to previous years (44% in 2003, 58% in 2002, 73% in 2001 and 72% in 2000) and decrease again in 2006.
Regarding HIV/AIDS page 52 offers;
Taking only 2006 notified cases, 37% of the AIDS cases, 28% of the AIDS related complex cases and 19% of the asymptomatic carriers cases were drug use associated.
This agains reinforces the decreasing trend, verified since 1998, in the absolute numbers and percentage of drug users in the overall number of diagnosed AIDS cases, as seen in the graph below, despite the fact that, in 2005, the infection by HIV was included in the national list of diseases which implies mandatory notification.
EMCDDA 2006 DATA, p. 52
Further reading of that page offers more clarity. The 2007 data report reads very closely.
Portugal faces a worrying deterioration of the drug situation. The facts prove "With 219 deaths from 'overdose' per year, Portugal has one of the worst results, with one death every two days. Along with Greece, Austria and Finland, Portugal registered an increase of deaths by more than 30% in 2005 " and " Portugal remains the country with the highest increase of AIDS as a result of injecting drugs (85 new cases per million residents in 2005, when the majority of countries do not surpass 5 cases per million). Portugal is the only country that recorded a recent increase, with 36 new cases estimated per million in 2005 when in 2004 only 30 were registered" (European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction 2007). The European report also confirmed that in 2006, Portugal had registered 703 new cases of SIDA, which corresponds to a rate eight times higher than the European average!
It's a bit like screaming at surgeons in Causality as they begin to operate on a loved one bleeding to death from multiple injuries. "His B.P. is lower than when he arrived, he lost consciousness not long after you touched him! Of the 27 people in here he's one of the worst! This is a hospital and he's not getting better - why isn't he better? There's blood everywhere and I now have proof of bone fractures and swelling on the brain - which I didn't have before I came here!"
What's truly devious about the tactics used by anti-drug campaigners is the cherry picking of data. Despite having read, and quoted in the same article, the World Drug Report 2009 our friend Manuel will ignore it when it suits him. Extraordinary claims require the evidence to back them and that means a link or a citation backed by a bibliography. Another trick used to pass Portugal off as a nation of drug induced tragedy and woe, is Coelho's use of "Western European" figures or "France, Ireland, Spain, The United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark and Portugal". He omits to share with us, for example in the case of opiates, that of nine indices Portugal has lower usage per capita than Switzerland and on UK population figures, Portuguese addicts would equal approximately 260,000 - not the UK's own 440,000. Statistically opiate use is still lower than Italy, whilst higher than Germany, France, Spain and The Netherlands.
WORLD DRUG REPORT 2009 - PAGE 55.
Whilst 219 deaths from overdoses and a 2005 increase of 30%, "along with Greece, Austria and Finland" is eye catching, Coelho's "real facts" are quite welcome if we note annual OD's were ~ 400 before decriminalisation and "HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank."
Coelho dispatches Cato and others smartly in his opening, ominously painting himself into a corner. He writes;
Recent articles in the weekly British magazine, The Economist and The Cato Institute of Washington promote government options as a legitimate right. The problem is the rest; the manipulation of the facts and numbers is unacceptable!
Remember that - "manipulation of the facts and numbers...". More so, the very recent slight increase in negative outcomes is not contested by policy analysts nor a viable proof of legalisation's social malignancy, as seemingly claimed. The Boston Globe reported last month, citing research by Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens;
In fact, drug-related deaths in Portugal — after falling between 1999 and 2002 — jumped considerably between 2005 and 2008.
But the drug-related death data is misleading, most likely due to a “shift in measurement practices,” and an increase in the number of toxicological autopsies performed, according to Hughes’s and Stevens’s research. And Hughes also takes issue with Humphreys’s argument that drug use, in general, is increasing at a dramatic clip.
What’s most relevant, she [Hughes] said, is not the percentage of people reporting using drugs at some point over some course of their lifetime, but the percentage of people reporting using drugs in the past year. “That’s going to be affecting the government and communities now,” she said. And here, the increase of Portuguese reporting illicit drug use is much smaller — up from 3.4 percent in 2001 to 3.7 in 2007."
The percentage of people reporting drug use in the past year... going to be affecting government and communities.
Wise words from Hughes. When we look at “ever used”, “lifetime use” and recent use, vastly different conclusions can be drawn. If drug use is falling over a short time frame or in response to new initiatives, the drop can be lost if “ever used” figures are quoted. This includes, say, one time experimenters and new/long term sober ex-users responding to treatment, giving a skewed view of ever increasing drug use.
Audaciously, Coelho scurrilously quotes the same IDC 2008 data as that used by Hughes and Stevens who arrive at almost polar conclusions, to state the mundane. "On the contrary, the consumption of drugs in Portugal increased by 4.2% - the percentage of people who have experimented with drugs at least once in their lifetime increased from 7.8% in 2001 to 12% in 2007". Which, in the context of pre-legalisation uptake and the now much reduced harm, increased treatment, reduced crime and deaths is nothing short of petulant and laughable.
More so, if one searches for these key words hoping to find the IDT making much of the equation, 12% - 7.8% = 4.2% one finds Coelho lurking in almost every corner of the internet that Portugal's success is reported. As noted he repeated his piece in Rapid Responses to Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal, BMJ - Oct. 2010. It's repeated in a comment to a BBC article here September 2010. The same day as he published it at WFAD it appears on Brazilian Humanitarians in Action. Comments at Wired In To Recovery January 12th, 2011 see "PeaPod" copy/paste the same text. In fact, everywhere one sees that 4.2% pop up it is attributed to Manic Manuel. Golf clap, dear reader, golf clap.
In The British Journal of Criminology, What Can We Learn From The Portuguese Decriminalisation Of Illicit Drugs?, Hughes and Stevens consult the IDT data extensively. Strangely, 4.2% is entirely absent in this voluminous text. It is here we can see why Coelho makes liberal use of combining Portugal with Spain and other nations. Consider Fig's 2 & 3 - number of offender arrests.
Their final conclusion continues the unraveling of Coelho...
In the Portuguese case, the statistical indicators and key informant interviews that we have reviewed suggest that since decriminalization in July 2001, the following changes have occurred:
small increases in reported illicit drug use amongst adults;
reduced illicit drug use among problematic drug users and adolescents, at least since 2003;
reduced burden of drug offenders on the criminal justice system;
increased uptake of drug treatment;
reduction in opiate-related deaths and infectious diseases;
increases in the amounts of drugs seized by the authorities;
reductions in the retail prices of drugs.
Perhaps the most damning abuse of evidence at Coelho's hands is that of the World Drug Report 2009. He quotes it in his article and thus, has clearly read it. From misrepresentation to fabrication, every "reference" made can be qualified differently. For a chap popping lofty titles after his name and leading the charge for a "Drug Free" Portugal it's incomprehensible that he's unaware of the INCB's 2004 mission to Portugal, and their conclusion that possession remained prohibited.
Initially he refers to decriminalisation as "in prejudice of the guidelines of the UN Conventions of which Portugal is a signatory." According to the WDR 2009, that our friend Manuel has read, the INCB conclude Portugal's legislation is within Convention Parameters.
On page 168 we read;
Those in possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use are issued with a summons rather than arrested. The drugs are confiscated and the suspect must appear before a commission. The suspect’s drug consumption patterns are reviewed, and users may be fined, diverted to treatment, or subjected to probation. Cases of drug trafficking continue to be prosecuted, and the number of drug trafficking offences detected in Portugal is close to the European average.
The International Narcotics Control Board was initially apprehensive when Portugal changed its law in 2001 (see their annual report for that year), but after a mission to Portugal in 2004, it “noted that the acquisition, possession and abuse of drugs had remained prohibited,” and said “the practice of exempting small quantities of drugs from criminal prosecution is consistent with the international drug control treaties...
The intentional deception goes on. Coelho writes in a masterpiece of Special Pleading;
With regard to hashish, it is difficult to assess the trends and intensive use of hashish in Europe, but among the countries that participated in field trials, between 2004 and 2007 (France, Spain, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and Portugal) there was an average increase of approximately 20% " (EMCDDA, 2008).
20%! Really? Remember, his article is called "Decriminalisation Of Drugs In Portugal - The Real Facts". What if we isolate Portugal from page 111 of the 2009 WDR. In 2001 Portugal's annual prevalence of cannabis use was 3.3%. Five years later in 2006 it was 3.6%. Italy had more than double from 6.2 to 14.6% up to 2007. But the juiciest bit on page 110 is that DRUG FREE Sweden increased cannabis use by almost 300% rising from 0.7% in 2000, to 2.2% in 2004 to 2.0% in 2006. So, by 2006, Sweden's Drug Free Zero Tolerance led to a three fold increase vs Portugal's 9.0% increase.
And how convenient to include Spain in misrepresenting illicit drug trends in Portugal. Spain tops the world for cannabis resin seizures grinning away at 50% or 653,631 kg for 2007. Portugal manages 3% - or 42,772 kg. So, Manuel almost certainly knows it's not "difficult to assess" at all. Coelho is cherry picking his data to convey his outmoded ideology as statistically valid.
However, Manuel has referenced the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction - EMCDDA 2008. It would indeed be most remiss of me to not fan the smoke and remove the mirrors here also. The site itself is a triumph of illicit drug research collation for Europe. A search for "Portugal, 2008" pulls up 300 items. This is where Coelho's lack of citation, a favourite trick of prohibitionists, gives him the inside lane again. The EMCDDA publishes 2007 Portugal data in 2008. 2008 Portugal data in 2009. Hence "EMCDDA, 2008" is a nonsense reference not worthy of a high school essay. Referring to psychoactive substance EMCDDA 2007 data states (page 17);
Results from the II National Population Survey on Psychoactive Substances in the Portuguese Population (15-64 years) indicate that cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy are the substances preferely used by Portuguese, with lifetime prevalences respectively of 11,7%, 1,9% and 1,3%. Between 2001 and 2007, despite the increase of lifetime prevalence in several illicit substances, a generalised decrease was verified in the continuation rates use.
You can read the breakdown of populations into sex, age, military, etc for yourself. Lifetime prevalence for cannabis for 3rd cycle students in 2001 was 10%, in 2007 6.3%. High school students showed 26% in 2001 and 19% in 2007. For total population use over the last 12 months is the same in 2001 and 2007 - 2.4%. 15 - 34 years indicate 4.4% in 2001 and 4.7% in 2007. These figures really aren't cause for carry on in either direction. They certainly don't support Coelho's claim of a 20% increase as part of policy failure.
But what perhaps exposes our Chairman of the Association for a Drug Free Portugal for the reckless fool he is, must be his obsession with prohibition. Right up to the point of ignoring the growth in Drug Free communities and referrals laid out on page 46 of the same document he uses in his failure to statistically condemn Portugal. As in Australia the Drug Free mob seem to be lonely fringe dwelling outcasts, unable to reciprocate outside their peculiar conservative beliefs.
Inpatient drug free treatment is mainly available in public and private15 therapeutic communities. In 2007 there were 76 therapeutic communities (3 public and 73 private units) in mainland Portugal. In comparison to 2006 there was 3 more private therapeutic communities. Contrarily to the decreasing figure that has been registered since 2002, in 2007 the number of registered clients in both public (134 clients, 110 in 2006) and private units (4 423 clients, 4 118 in 2006) increased in comparison to previous years.
As the Chairman of a national organisation Coelho has had ample time to retract and/or correct his piece/s. He hasn't and ignores further data to the contrary. The 2009 National Report on Portugal (2008 data) to the EMCDDA gives a swift rebuttal to Coelho's trick of submerging Portugal in a string of nations. It is heavy on IDT data - the source of Coelho's primary claim of increasing drug use - which we shall consult and clarify. However the IDT website offers the following measured view;
Drugs in Portugal - situation and responses
In the context of Drugs and Drug Addiction, the year 2006 was distinguished by the effort developed by all Bodies and Entities with intervention in this area, in order to find effective coordination forms, with a clear definition of the priorities and responsibilities of each intervenient.
Following the assessment of the Portuguese Drug Strategy 1999, the year in which the strategic goals were redefined and included in the National Action Plan Horizon 2012 and was outlined the Action Plan mid-term (Horizon 2008), with the actions’ schedule, clear assumption of the responsibilities in the carrying out and definition of measurable indicators in order to be monitored
Cannabis continues to be the most used drug and its visibility in several indicators continues to increase, alone or in combination with other substances.
Nevertheless, heroin remains as the main drug involved in health drug use related consequences and in some of the legal drug use related consequences.
The presence of cocaine is increasingly being mentioned in several indicators, namely concerning the recreational, treatment and market settings.
Lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use (Balsa 2001)
2006 school survey data seems to indicate a decrease in drug use prevalence amongst the pupils of the 6th, 8th and 10th grades (aged 12 to 19). However this is based on preliminary data only and more in-depth analyses will be needed to confirm this apparent decrease.
Responses to drug use were re-organised at national level, following the 2004 evaluation and the 2005 drafting of new National Plan.
Emphasis will be placed in local needs assessment and the provision of integrated responses, in accordance with the identified needs. Integrated responses will have the possibility of including the areas of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation.
The news ticker on the site happens to only offer The Success of Drug Decriminalisation in Portugal.
But on to the EMCDDA 2008 Report. Page 5 offers;
Results from national estimations on problematic drug use in Portugal indicate that there are between 6.2 and 7.4 problematic drug users for each 1 000 inhabitants aged 15-64 years, and between 1.5 and 3.0 for the definition of problematic drug users (injecting drug users). Between 2000 and 2005, the estimate number of problematic drug users in Portugal has shown a clear decline, with special relevance for injecting drug users…
...Indicators available continue to suggest effective responses at treatment level (increase in the number of clients involved in both drug free and substitution programmes) and at harm reduction level. The number of active clients in the outpatient public treatment network increased as well as first treatment demands (for the second time since 2000 changed the decrease trend). Heroin continues to be the main substance associated to health consequences and specifically in the sub-population of drug users that seek access to different treatment structures, but references to cocaine, cannabis and alcohol in this setting are increasing.
The availability of substitution programmes continues to increase and the number of clients continues to increase steadily (increases were registered in the number of clients in methadone and buprenorphine programmes).
Page 6 does indeed show a negative trend in General Mortality in 2008 - up 6 from 14 to 20 which Coelho misses. However, Coelho's claims of increasing use and HIV are seen to be false along with a welcome drop in HCV rates.
The decreasing trend in the percentage of drug users in the total number of notifications of HIV/AIDS cases continues to be registered. Concerning HIV infection in the treatment setting, the percentages of HIV positive cases (prelavences) varied between 9% and 25%, showing a tendency for decrease in last years.
Hepatitis B positive cases (prevalences) remained stable in comparison to previous years and Hepatitis C registered the smaller values of the last four years.
This decrease may be related, amongst other factors, to the implementation of harm reduction measures, which may be leading to a decrease in intravenous drug use (also visible in data concerning administration route in first treatment demands), or to intravenous drug use in better sanitary conditions, as indicated by the number of exchanged syringes in the National Programme “Say no to a second hand syringe”.
...In 2008, a increase was registered on drug-related mortality in the General Mortality Register in comparison to 2007 (20 in 2008 and 14 in 2007)...
...In Portugal, treatment for HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis B and C is included in the National Health Service and therefore available and free for those who need it.
In 2008, it is worth noting the enlargement of the socio sanitary structures and responses to drug users, the definition and implementation of technical guidelines in order to improve the quality of intervention and procedures that are more efficient, as well as the participation in working groups to define responses to populations with specific needs.
In the prison setting, inmates and staff are routinely vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
Remember the ubiquitous Coelho paragraph, polluting our search results?
The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal did not in any way decrease levels of consumption. On the contrary, "the consumption of drugs in Portugal increased by 4.2% - the percentage of people who have experimented with drugs at least once in their lifetime increased from 7.8% in 2001 to 12% in 2007 (IDT-Institute for Drugs and Drug Addiction Portuguese, 2008).
On the contrary? On the contrary, Manuel, that's remarkably ignorant. Did you correct for that ubiquitous inflator of "drug use" figures - the one off or infrequent cannabis user? Perhaps not. What does the IDT data show within EMCDDA 2008, seeing as you're booming about it? From Page 19;
There are no significant differences between 2001 and 2007 results; there was a slight increase of cocaine and heroin use at least once in lifetime by females and a decrease in all the other substances.
Clearly, cannabis is the dominating drug. And we can see the relevance of Caitlan Hughes stating that, "... percentage of people reporting drug use in the past year", is of significance. With no change over the past 30 days in six years and an insignificant change over 12 months, this reflects more experimentation and infrequent use - not lumbering stoners.
Some of Manuel's best distortions however, are in carving up his cocaine lines. Pun intended.
Coelho correctly informs us that drug related murders increased 40%. The report notes elsewhere Portugal's position as a transit nation. "It was the only European country with a significant increase in (drug-related) murders between 2001 and 2006", he warns citing the WDR 2009. So, let's check that very report on page 168 to note;
While cocaine seizures in a number of European countries increased sharply during that period, in 2006, Portugal suddenly had the sixth-highest cocaine seizure total in the world. The number of murders increased 40% during this same period of time, a fact that might be related to the trafficking activity. Although the rate remains low and Lisbon is one of Europe’s safest cities, Portugal was the only European country to show a significant increase in murder during this period.
This rapid increase in trafficking was probably related to the use of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, former colonies, as transit countries. Most of the traffickers arrested in Portugal in 2007 were of West African origin. As international awareness of the problem increased, cocaine seizures fell in a number of European countries, but France and Portugal, two countries with former colonies in the region, showed the most pronounced decreases.
So this is down to non-nationals taking advantage of Portugal's geographic location - and at times getting murdered as a result. Certainly not what Coelho would have us believe. Scare stories about "drug tourism" are without foundation also.
But let's examine that last sentence - "pronounced decreases";
WORLD DRUG REPORT 2009 - PAGE 72
Again, I can only think of the moron in the man who thought he could quote this report and expect to get away with misrepresenting it.
On page 168 of the WDR 2009 we read;
...the number of drug trafficking offences detected in Portugal is close to the European average.
These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal’s policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism. It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased.
Cocaine use for Portugal was 0.3% in 2001 and 0.6% in 2006 - a doubling in 5 years. Seizures over a similar time frame are 5,574 kg in 2001, 3,021 kg in 2003, 18,083 kg in 2005, 34,477 kg in 2006 and 7,363 kg in 2007. If seizures reflected usage they would be around 11,000 kg in 2006 to accommodate the doubling of use. As they reflect transit we see over 34,000 kg.
And on it goes. Page after page in publication after publication supporting Portugal's decriminalisation, refuting critics and most importantly damning the misleading and damaging pseudoscientific twaddle of one Manuel Pinto Coelho. Published in February 2010 Coelho's piece purposely shirks more recent data conveying an entirely different trend. His deception is confirmed by republishing again and again after the World Drug Report 2009 became available in July 2010, refuting his intellectual rampage most thoroughly. Seizing on poor data sets and extreme examples out of context, he’d do climate change denialists proud. Cocaine, cannabis, heroin, stimulants, hashish, murder, HIV and even one of those spooky opinion polls recording “attitudes” of the Portuguese that as we well know, are not science.
At the last, he tries to pass off an esoteric analysis in which Portugal allows criminal activity to be conducted by “the sick” such that “Pretend you are sick and the government pretends to treat you”. Addicts are now seen as patients, not “delinquents” he bemoans pathetically, who are “assumed” free and responsible. The state is feeding the “disease”.
What is worse however, is that this nonsense is swallowed in it's entirety by Drug Free Australia who then spread it into the community as, no doubt, "the real facts".
And in doing so, they continue to contribute to ignorance, crime, drug related harm, reduction in treatment income, discrimination, family breakdown, incarceration and the building of more prisons, blood borne viruses - which affect us all - wasted funding dollars and the sequestering of same away from worthwhile community projects.
Some topics are too serious for stupidity and contrariness. There comes a time when despite the media's desire for "balance" and the government's view to allow airing of all views, we must decide if any "debate" still exists. The simple fact is, Jo Baxter and cohorts within Drug Free Australia - despite analogues around the world - cause far too much damage to allow them the quaint belief they might be correct.
I wish they weren't here.
What Can We Learn From The Portuguese Decriminalisation Of Illicit Drugs? (The British Journal of Criminology)