Thursday, 24 March 2011

Soft on Drugs? ... Soft in the Head!

Darren “Maaaate” Marton
Today, in the The Daily Telegraph, Darren Marton wrote. 

I AM not an expert in the drug and alcohol field. I am a layman who has learned his lessons through life experience.

And he is dead right. He is not an expert on drugs and forms his views from empirical data (his own experience). Certainly not worthy of consideration for a national or state drug policy.

But it’s more than that. Like most anti-harm minimisation zealots, Marton’s use of the truth, is dubious at best. It’s this willingness to lie along with a mix of fanaticism - in opposition to harm minimisation - that makes people like Darren Marton so dangerous.

Marton’s recent piece in The Daily Telegraph(below) is a prime example of how anti-drug rhetoric from politicians can be misconstrued as some wise, righteous advice that can only benefit the community. But lying about the facts is not helping anyone, especially the families of drug users who have suffered the consequences from decades of propaganda. Marton’s message is just an extension of that propaganda, hurting the very people he is supposed to care so much about.

Claiming we have never had a "War on Drugs" is an insult to the millions of people incarcerated around the globe who have done nothing wrong but suffer an addiction. Imagine how do African-Americans and Latinos in the US feel when someone denies that they are victims of a largely racist policy? Although African-Americans make up 12.2 percent of the population and 13% of regular drug users in the US, they account for 74% of all Americans sent to prison for drug possession crimes. In other words, African-Americans were sent to state prisons for drug offences 13 times more often than other races. It’s a similar story for Latinos. How can Darren Marton possibly defend a Zero Tolerance policy when it causes results like this? Look at the crack-cocaine disparity laws in the US. During his reign as US President, Ronald Reagan - whose strategies form the basis for Marton’s suggestions e.g. “Just Say No” campaign, tough drug laws etc. - increased penalties for crack possession, 100 times that of powder cocaine. Of course, crack is widely used in poorer suburbs largely populated with minorities like African-Americans and Latinos whilst cocaine powder was then exclusively for the richer, white middle-upper classes. This is the reality of Marton’s suggestions. The fact is, simple slogan campaigns like “Just Say No” or his own “No Way” don’t work and never have. They might appease nervous parents or posturing politicians but history and research have ruled them out as ineffective.

Australia minorities are not exempt from the harsh reality of the "War on Drugs" either. Tough drug laws inflict much more damage to poorer families than the middle-upper class. For example, most drug dealers are addicts on low incomes who fund their addiction by selling to other addicts and friends. This “crime” is non violent and between consenting adults yet it is the focus of a Zero Tolerance policy championed by those who are far removed from this world. At the other end of the scale are the largely hidden, middle-upper class addicts who often have the means to fund their addiction albeit, only for a while. They often can afford clever solicitors, have family support and let’s face it, scrub up better in a court room.

Denying we have ever had a "War on Drugs" is disingenuous and to suggest that we are somehow too liberal with our drug policy is wrong. What Marton fails to tell us is that our official policy of Harm Minimisation has never been properly implemented. Anti-drug zealots love to rattle on about harm reduction programs like needle exchanges, methadone etc. but it is only one pillar of the Harm Minimisation policy. The other two pillars are Supply Reduction(law enforcement) and Demand Reduction(education). If you believe people like Marton, harm minimisation is all about an easy ride for users and taking away resources for prevention and law enforcement. But Harm Reduction only receives 3% of the drug budget whilst law enforcement(Supply Reduction) gets a whopping 56%. Education(Demand Reduction) gets 23% while treatment gets a measly 17%. 

In other words, your taxes mop up the mess. It is a social experiment policy, and a reactive one at that.

Those who oppose Harm Minimisation universally favour Zero Tolerance. What they fail to explain though, is that most drug policies in reality are based on Zero Tolerance with smatterings of Harm Minimisation programs. Not exactly the “social experiment policy” that Marton claims. 

I ask the question: What kind of future do we want to leave our children and our grandchildren? If it's one that protects our young, strengthens families, and provides safer communities, then let's do it.

Apart from being poorly written, Marton’s piece is pure hyperbole. Exaggerated sound bites, warnings of a doomed future and conspiracy theories tossed together in a disjointed, mess of ideas. But this is the level of competence expected from crusaders like Darren Marton. A far cry from carefully researched studies by qualified experts with decades of experience. I can’t help but think of that famous quote from The Simpsons - Won’t someone please think of the children! And maybe we should. In the US, African-American children were nearly nine times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than white children and Latino children were three times more likely to have a parent incarcerated than white children. Another success for Marton’s Zero Tolerance strategy.

The former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery QC, called at The Daily Telegraph's People's Parliament debate for the decriminalisation of some drug offences. This is outrageous.

In his article, Marton also mentions “The Daily Telegraph's People's Parliament debate for the decriminalisation of some drug offences” and how “outrageous” it is that former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery QC wants a change to our drug laws. Maybe if Marton looked a bit closer he would have noticed that yesterday, several Liberal Party members attended a presentation in Parliament House by former ACT Supreme Court Judge Ken Crispin who warned us about the problems with our current approach to tackling drug crime. Dr Crispin said that the majority of Australians in jail were there because of drugs or mental illness and most would reoffend because they had not received proper treatment. He added that despite the billions spent on combating drugs, the price of heroin and cocaine had dropped but supply had steadily increased. The Libs who attended, fully support the idea of drug law reform and praised the ex judge’s suggestions. Surely a blow for Marton who relies so heavily on the anti-drug rhetoric of political parties, especially the Libs.

In summary, Darren Marton’s baseless article should concern all of us. With no support from professionals and experts, Marton and co. are left with the only option available ... to play on public ignorance and emotions. If Darren Marton actually spent some time researching the topic of drug policy and the effect on society he might come to a different conclusion. Instead, like so many other anti-drug crusaders, he keeps reiterating the same old, debunked suggestions that are rejected by most professionals in the AOD industry, researchers, scientists, welfare workers, doctors, economists and drug experts. And as history has shown, these suggestions when put into practice are not only dangerous but cause far more damage than drugs ever will. 

Soft On Drugs? Simply Say No
Darren Marton
March 2011

I AM not an expert in the drug and alcohol field. I am a layman who has learned his lessons through life experience.

It is of serious concern to me that proponents of harm minimisation favour the legalisation for personal use of some prohibited drugs.

The former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery QC, called at The Daily Telegraph's People's Parliament debate for the decriminalisation of some drug offences. This is outrageous.

For a number of years now it has been claimed that we have lost the war on drugs.

But we have never had a war on drugs. For some, moving to a second phase of harm-minimisation - legalisation - was always the final objective.

But I don't believe Australians are the type of people to wave the white flag.

The NSW drug and alcohol budget in 2009/10 was $140 million. In addition to the services that funding provides, the NSW Government also provides funding for treatment services.

In other words, your taxes mop up the mess. It is a social experiment policy, and a reactive one at that.

Kids as young as 11 have been calling for better drug education with the nation's largest youth survey revealing they feel "ill equipped" to deal with drugs.

When are we going to start listening to the most vulnerable people in the community?

It is far easier to build a young boy or girl than to repair a man or woman.

So it is imperative that we protect our most vulnerable with a focus or prevention and early intervention.

I ask the question: What kind of future do we want to leave our children and our grandchildren?

If it's one that protects our young, strengthens families, and provides safer communities, then let's do it.

Darren Marton is Director of The No-Way Campaign

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Friday, 18 March 2011

Drug Hysteria & The Great Doctor Witch Hunt

 DOCTORS are writing thousands of suspect prescriptions for a pharmaceutical variation of heroin, much of it destined for the black market, forcing the federal government to investigate the actions of 50 medical practitioners.

The headline says, ‘Legal Heroin’. Seriously … Who writes this crap? OxyContin and MS-Contin are NOT a ‘pharmaceutical variation of heroin’. Heroin is a pharmaceutical variation of morphine. MS-Contin is just slow release morphine and OxyContin is similar except the active ingredient is oxycondone - a synthetic variation of morphine. 

Drug Hysteria 
It is this type of trash journalism that helps fuel the drug hysteria that we have become so accustom to. With help from the media, we have managed to demonise drugs to the point where the mere mention of heroin or amphetamines fills our head with images of needle littered alleyways infested with strung out junkies. We may not realise it but virtually no one alive today has experienced life without drug prohibition or the constant drum of anti-drug campaigns. Is it any wonder that so many people fear drugs without knowing the facts?

Since the 1970s, we have been bombarded with anti-drug propaganda courtesy of Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs”. Not since the era of Reefer Madness and the Temperance movement had we seen such government vigour to demonise drugs. The US government’s commitment was so intense that it used all of it’s might to install their anti-drug policy on the whole world.  And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, along came Ronald Reagan. Any hope of rationality entering the drug debate was gone along with evidence based policy, human rights and logic. Reagan’s reign of terror introduced such doozies as mandatory sentencing, three strikes and you’re out, the crack-cocaine disparity laws and the “Just Say No” mindset. Damning drug users was now a permanent weapon for ambitious politicians, playing on the fear of parents and a gullible public. Conservatives, moralisers and the media went along for the ride. The US’s "War on Drugs" was now a global fight.

They say that the first victim of war is the truth. And the "War on Drugs" is no exception. When it comes to drugs, no claim is too outrageous and no strategy is off limits. Politicians and anti-drug groups are free to make any claim they want, regardless of the truth or reality. Drugs are now used as a tool to further someone’s career or push a certain ideology but the underlying message is fear. Luckily we now have the internet and a growing population who have used drugs recreationally and survived. The empty rhetoric from politicians - who openly admit to previous drug use but warn off others not to repeat their so called mistakes - is increasingly falling on deaf ears. Despite the predictions over the last 100 years of impending doom where drugged out zombies roam the streets or our hospitals are over flowing with dope smoking, paranoid schizophrenics, life goes on and the sky remains firmly in place. But the real issue that underpins the perceived drug problem is the specious strategies championed by the very people who keep making these dire predictions.

The Great Doctor Witch Hunt
My doctor has been telling me this for years - GPs are terrified of being targeted for over-prescribing opioids or benzos. He also told me that many GPs will under-prescribed much needed medications or not at all. They don’t feel good about it but sadly, fear is now a stronger incentive than best medical practice. My doctor is a pragmatic man and tells it like it is. he explains that moralisers, politicians and conservatives despise the misuse of drugs and if a few innocent doctors are wrongly charged, well it’s a small price to pay to catch those who feed the rabid junkie scourge. 

Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek warned that doctors caught doing the wrong thing would be ``put on notice'' and face possible sanctions. The Professional Services Review could be called in, while serious fraud cases will be referred to the commonwealth director of public prosecutions, she said. 

This is a regular topic I discuss with my doctor  and he is as adamant as myself that the "War on Drugs" causes far more problems than it fixes. It’s probably ironic that during our conversation, he pauses to phone the health department to get an authorisation for my monthly script. A script that provides me with enough daily morphine to kill over 10 healthy adults. I always wonder while he attends his phone call if he is afraid of being targeted like the GPs he mentioned to me. If he is afraid, he has never shown it.

As part of a Medicare crackdown, 50 doctors across Australia have come under scrutiny for prescribing unusually high levels of drugs to patients aged under 50 who are less likely to need pain management medication.

When I hear about ‘prescribing unusually high levels of drugs’ I often wonder what doses are they talking about. How much is too high? As I previously mentioned, my daily requirements are huge compared to someone on 3 x 10mg tablets per day. But some pain sufferers take triple of what I am prescribed and methadone patients are often given twice my equivalent dose. It seems logical that some patients receive high doses to meet their medical needs whilst others suffice with a lower dose. My question is, how do bureaucrats determine the maximum level any one person needs to reduce pain?

I recently wrote about a situation in South Australia where DASSA (Drugs of Dependence Unit within Drug and Alcohol Services SA) have taken over the task of dealing with pain sufferers. DASSA’s main clientele are drug addicts and therefore lack the expertise to deal with pain patients who require large doses of pain medication. In typical bureaucratic style, DASSA has set upper limits on opioid dosages so that those who once had sufficient coverage for their pain issues now have to reduce their medication. Can we even imagine how much stress and suffering that causes those who are in chronic pain? Many of them can’t even get out of bed let alone attend a drug addiction centre like Waranilla at Norwood. While anyone else with a medical condition can see the doctor of their choice, those who need specialised pain management, must line up with methadone patients at drug addiction centres. 

Since the policy has changed many sufferers are now unable to work, care for themselves and their families, and are in constant pain. Things were working perfectly well before the policy change was made for no apparent reason

Tanya Plibersek
Bungled policies like the South Australian situation are a result of drug hysteria, political posturing and ignorance. But at what point does ignorance stop being an excuse for elected leaders who are paid to implement policies in the best interest of the community? And what about when a politician is not ignorant but still willing to rattle on with the usual “Tough on Drugs" rhetoric. 

The misuse of prescription narcotics is a growing problem that destroys lives and tears communities apart
--Tanya Plibersek

Human Services and Social Inclusion Minister, Tanya Plibersek has a good reason not to succumb to political pressure and repeating the standard government line on drugs. Her husband was once a drug addict and spent nearly three years in prison for a heroin distribution charge. If anyone should understand the futility of prohibition and tough law enforcement on drug addicts then Tanya Plibersek is it. 

You have to wonder if threatening doctors is really a sensible thing to do ... especially coming from Tanya Plibersek who should know better. There is already enough fear amongst medical practitioners who are reluctant to prescribe much needed pain medication. The insatiable desire to stop drug misuse is simply not balanced with providing important medication. Instilling fear into prescribing GPs does not help address the problem of drug abuse.

Maybe Tanya has never understood what a harrowing experience heroin addiction and prison really are? Tanya’s husband, Michael Coutts-Trotter and his heroin related problems ended two decades ago but since then, he has managed to become the Chief of Staff to the NSW Treasurer, Director-General of the NSW Department of Commerce and was appointed the Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and Training in 2007. An amazing recovery for a banged up junkie.

But it seems that her husband’s past has not managed to influence her present thinking. In January 2011, Tanya reinforced the government’s support of failed drug policies with an article in The Australian. Her attempt to appear appalled by the unethical spending habits of Australians was really a support piece for various government policies with criticism of those who are selfish and unethical in their decision making by contravening those policies. There was confirmation that the government’s internet filter would stop sickos viewing child abuse or violent sex, warnings of unfluoridated water harming our children’s teeth, praise for “the very successful national drug strategy” and even some finger wagging at those who buy expensive bottled water when they could drink some “good old five-star Sydney water”.

Many consumers think carefully about the ethical farming of veal, for example, but think nothing about the chain of misery and exploitation that brings them their Saturday night cocaine. Many Australians wouldn't eat foie gras because the practice of force-feeding geese is objectionable, but drug mules desperate enough to swallow condoms full of cocaine don't get a second thought.

The ABC reported in September that Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel is responsible for about half the cocaine importation in eastern Australia. More than 28,000 people have died in Mexico since 2006 as a result of the wars between rival drug cartels and law enforcement. The country is on the verge of collapse and brutal mass murders are becoming commonplace as drug lords vie with one another for lucrative control of regions.

Many of the so-called feelgood recreational drugs produced in Australia are made in circumstances in which violence is seen as a necessary tool in the process of production and distribution. The last person you bought from might be perfectly charming, but you can be almost certain that somewhere along the chain, violence and intimidation have occurred to bring you your drugs.

But where Tanya really went astray was with her attempt to cash in on the recently popular trend of blaming those who use “so-called feelgood recreational drugs” for feeding the violent drug cartels in Mexico. This, of course is ridiculous and more evidence of how prepared some politicians are to deceive us about drugs. And coming from Plibersek - who has living proof sharing the same bed - it’s even more diabolical. The fact is, drug cartels only exists for one reason … drug prohibition. It’s the very policies that bucket heads like Plibersek push that causes the 35,000 plus deaths in Mexico. If anyone is selfish and unethical in their decision making, it’s the bloody politicians.

Street Drugs vs. Pharmaceutical Drugs
The problem with heroin, cocaine and speed is that they are usually made by criminals in makeshift labs and passed down through various dealers who cut it at each stage. This means that the strength is unknown and full of god-knows-what. Pharmaceutical drugs though, are 100% pure with a known dosage. Some addicts will turn to Pharmaceutical drugs after a bad experience with street drugs or are wary of wasting more money on low quality gear. Surely, a better outcome in the spirit of harm minimisation.

There will always be people who inject drugs and there will always be people with narcotics dependencies. The positive advantage with OxyContin is that users know exactly what they're getting, whereas with heroin, they don't. Many now prefer OxyContin because it's clean and it's safer.

The pressing issue, as always is the law. If these drugs were prescribed to addicts in a controlled and clinical setting, there would be no diversion or over prescribing. We tend to forget that all drugs, including heroin, morphine and cocaine were once available to addicts as part of their treatment plan. They weren’t looked down on or stigmatised like today’s junkies. Most addicts worked, had families and lived like everyone else of the time. And the truly amazing fact is that since prohibition, we have spent trillions of dollars and sent millions of people to prison trying to stop drug use but addiction rates have remained the same. It seems that having hard drugs freely available via a doctor’s prescription yielded no more addicts than ruthlessly locking up those suffering from addiction. Armed with these facts, we, as a society should demand that politicians and law makers abide by the evidence and expert advice and stop this futile war on people. 

Legal 'Heroin' Sold To Addicts
Eamonn Duff and Daniel Lane
March 2011

DOCTORS are writing thousands of suspect prescriptions for a pharmaceutical variation of heroin, much of it destined for the black market, forcing the federal government to investigate the actions of 50 medical practitioners.

More than 580,000 taxpayer-funded scripts were approved in NSW in the past two years for OxyContin and similar opiate painkillers, such as OxyNorm and MS-Contin, dubbed ''hillbilly heroin''.

For every $34 script of OxyContin, users are obtaining a box of 20, 80 milligram tablets. Each tablet can then sell on the black market for as much as $50. With further subsidies to pensioners, the box can be bought for as little as $6 - and its contents might be sold on the street for $1000.

While the medication has revolutionised care for chronic pain sufferers, it is leaking out of the health system to such an extent that police and health experts warn it could soon surpass street heroin and ice as the needle addict's drug of choice.

The prescription opioids are obtained unlawfully by dealers and addicts who ''doctor shop'' for multiple prescriptions. One patient visited 46 doctors in three months and obtained 119 scripts, primarily for OxyContin, the government has confirmed.

Sydney doctor Alan Saunders, who has been targeted by doctor shoppers, warned: "It's not just OxyContin - it's valium and all the other drugs. The government is subsidising the drug trade."

Pharmacists say they are confronted with stolen and fake scripts, while legitimate pain sufferers are obtaining the drug and then selling it.

The government acknowledges the problem. Federal Minister for Human Services Tanya Plibersek confirmed to The Sun-Herald that Medicare had identified 50 doctors for ''unusually high levels of prescription writing for drugs such as OxyContin and OxyNorm''.

"The misuse of prescription narcotics is a growing problem which destroys lives and tears communities apart. Doctors suspected of making these drugs available to patients who do not require them for clinical purposes will be put on notice."

With a slow-release formula, OxyContin capsules are designed to work through the day. Illicit users, however, discard the other binding agents and extract the drug in its purest form so, when injected, it delivers an instant hit.

According to new state government statistics released to The Sun-Herald, more than $557 million worth of illegal drugs were seized in the state last year - more than double the street value of the previous year's tally of $260 million. The haul included $185.2 million worth of cannabis, $126 million of cocaine, $195 million of amphetamines and $28 million of MDMA/ecstasy. NSW Police Minister Michael Daley said the figures showed police were doing ''a fantastic job keeping our streets safe'', adding: ''It's millions of doses of deadly substances that have been kept out of the veins of would-be drug users.''

Significantly, NSW police also seized more than $25 million worth of heroin. At the same time, a taxpayer-funded version of the drug is infiltrating the black market. The commander of the NSW drug squad, Nick Bingham, said: ''We're talking pharmaceutical-grade heroin. It's highly sought after in the drug-using community and, unfortunately, it is finding its way [onto the streets]. To be honest, police don't particularly want to have to target prescription opiates when there are other important things to tackle, such as organised crime.''

Inspector Bingham is part of the recently formed National Pharmaceutical Misuse Strategy Committee and said prescription opiates were ''high on the agenda … One of the discussion points is educating doctors in regards to prescriptions … there needs to be tighter scrutiny.'' The director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St Vincent's Hospital, Alex Wodak, agrees major reforms are needed to improve the way opiates are prescribed by the medical profession: ''The process needs to be far more discriminating, more realistic, more careful.

''GPs do the bulk of this work. They're under tremendous pressure and could do with better assistance from the whole system, whether it be from medicine doctors, psychiatrists, pain doctors or better guidelines tailored to them.''

Dr Wodak also referred to the ''long overdue'' national real-time database which, if implemented, could alert authorities when ''runners'' try to use multiple scripts at different chemists, at different locations.

''The Commonwealth seems interested in trying to get all the states to adopt a similar live system,'' he said. ''If we are serious about this issue, we have to form a national response.''

But Richard Mattick, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, fears a crackdown could hit genuine pain sufferers.

''Let's not forget these medications are terribly important to the community,'' he said. ''If you have a loved one affected by cancer or serious pain, you want them to receive the best possible care and these medications are much better, much safer than anything previously available. The community is better served and, in a way, that has allowed prescribing to be more generous.

''The danger here is that we see the bad side but don't balance that against the need.''

Gideon Warhaft, of the NSW Users & AIDS Association, argues: ''There will always be people who inject drugs and there will always be people with narcotics dependencies. The positive advantage with OxyContin is that users know exactly what they're getting, whereas with heroin, they don't. Many now prefer OxyContin because it's clean and it's safer.''

Related Articles

Friday, 4 March 2011

Bucket Head of the Year Awards - 2010

If there’s anything that will be remembered regarding illicit drugs in 2010, it will be the burgeoning change of attitudes around the world. Never before have we seen so many media articles about drug prohibition, the failure of the drug war and calls for change to global drug policy. Any politician with some degree of nous would have kept a close eye on this development as the public and media become more critical of the failed "War on Drugs”. 

Regardless of whether there is changing attitudes or a surge in prominent people pointing out the vast evidence that contradicts our drug policies, there are still those who persist in ignoring the facts and pushing their own selfish and/or ignorant agenda. And it’s these delightful people, along with their myopic behaviour that provide the material for the Bucket Head Awards.

Every year, we are treated to an array of bizarre speeches, inane views and corrupt political decisions that will make our history books read like a movie script for some whacky new comedy. Many of the real life characters would provide years of material for up and coming screen writers and some scenarios would make Monty Python seem almost sensible. It’s almost too good to be true when needing to show how far some people will go when drugs are concerned. 

NOTE: These awards are from an Australian perspective and are based on issues involving drug policy and drug treatment. Many nominees are probably guilty of various other deeds but these awards are for drug related issues. I assume I have left out many candidates and events so feel free to add your nominations. These are my personal opinions and if I have upset anyone, I am sorry. If you don't want to be involved in these awards ... don't give me a reason to nominate you.

Worst Strategy from a Country in 2010
•Britain - New drug policy

The joint leaders of the newly elected coalition government were both drug law reformists before coming into power. But history is doomed to repeat itself as they ditched their commitment to reforming the countries failed drug policy as soon as they had the power to finally implement change. Their long held beliefs suddenly disappeared and the government soon announced a rework of existing policies. They magniloquently announced that they were to do away with harm reduction strategies (that kept addicts enslaved to addiction) and focus on prevention (that addressed the problem before it started). The government was getting serious about drug use and they were doing it their way … regardless of whether it would work or not. They had read the tabloids and were putting in place new procedures that would keep the hysterical masses satisfied. These included: removing the need to consult with scientists on drug related issues, punishing drug users who were not in treatment (e.g. stopping welfare payments) and another promise to crack down on supply. The "War on Drugs" 2.0 was launched.

Runners Up:
•Mexico - Continuing their same old strategy that has resulted in over 30,000 deaths
•Hungary - Replacing harm minimisation with stricter drug laws
•Canada - Attempting to introduce mandatory drug laws and trying to close their safe injecting centre

Worst International Anti-Drug Organisation in 2010
As drug prohibition around the world continues to wreak havoc on society, there is a growing realisation that current strategies have failed to tackle the drug problem. Slowly but surely, we are moving away from the lies and selfish agendas that have dominated global drug policies for so long. Frustrated with the lack of success from antiquated drug laws, we are looking to science and research to deal with a medical/social issue that has for too long, been treated as a law and order problem. The underlying issue - that some people think other people should not seek pleasure from drugs - is being questioned by society as well as the massive carnage caused by our efforts in trying to enforce this view.

But the quest to reduce the enormous damage caused by current strategies is being hindered by determined, ideological groups. These organisations often have a religious undertone like the initial groups who first attempted to ban alcohol and drugs over 100 years ago. They all have similar themes like the belief in a drug free world or tougher penalties for drug users and will go to great lengths to influence governments and the public. Being masters of deception, they often resort to junk science, slanted research and heavily biased media material to push their puritan message onto an ignorant public. Like the push by Christian fundamentalists to categorise creationism as science, so too do the anti-drug fundamentalists attempt to promote their moral precepts as a credible, mainstream solution.

You may have already noticed that the major players in the anti-drug movement are limited to a small group and you will find they often appear as board members/associates of several anti-drug organisations to boost the membership numbers or add credibility.

•World Federation Against Drugs [website]
Who are The World Federation Against Drugs … they sure sound impressive? Yes they are. The WFAD tell us that their work is ‘built on the principles of universal fellowship and basic human and democratic rights’. and that ‘the aim of WFAD is to work for a drug-free world’. Obviously a great bunch of humanitarians. 

Did they say a drug free world? Yes, they believe that we can create a drug free world, just like when the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime(UNODC) at the 1998 UNGASS on drugs produced the slogan, ‘A Drug Free World by 2008 … We Can Do It’. But as you have probably guessed, we didn’t do it and sadly, will never do it. Unfortunately though, that won’t stop the drug propagandists … nothing will.

Not long before the delegates of member states gathered in New York at the UNGASS on drugs in 1998, outstanding professionals and politicians from all around the world addressed Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General in an open letter. They warned the UN not to chase rainbows but to stay down to earth, because in the name of pursuing a drug free society member states often violate human rights, assault the environment and fill prisons with non-violent offenders. “Realistic proposals to reduce drug-related crime, disease and death are abandoned in favor of rhetorical proposals to create drug-free societies. Persisting in our current policies will only result in more drug abuse, more empowerment of drug markets and criminals, and more disease and suffering,” they wrote. Unfortunately these dissent voices remained unheard in 1998, the UNGASS was a sequence of political speeches light years away from the reality of crime, addiction and disease on the streets. 

Look a little closer and you will discover that The WFAD and related organisations really have another agenda. They might claim to want what’s best for troubled drug users but it’s not really about helping them. It’s about using them to condemn what they considered to be sinful behaviour.

Drug users have a right to the expectation of living drug free and having the opportunity to lead productive, working lives.

They use clever misdirection with keywords like rights, democracy, tolerance, equality, freedom, justice etc. or phrases like ‘ to protect children’, ‘undercutting traditional values’, ‘threatening the existence of stable families, communities, and government institutions’, This resonates with the public who have only ever been told that drugs are a scourge on society or all junkies will rob you just for a fix. Their underlying agenda is too complex for a casual observer who has been exposed to anti-drug propaganda for an entire lifetime. 

The WFAD recognizes that civil society has the right to fact-based information about the risks and damage caused by drugs. All people have the right to be protected from the harms created by drug use.

Like organised religion, it’s about control, power and pushing their views onto others. They believe that taking drugs and alcohol is evil or even a sin and these pursuits leave people less time for prayer, family or other acceptable activities. Those who partake in these evil activities need to be remorseful for their lack of personal responsibility and the only way to stop this scourge is with public condemnation, punishment or an appointment with Dr. God. And like organised religion; science, history and facts are only true when they originate from an approved source. They claim that the carnage is not because of our barbaric drug laws that incarcerate millions of non-violent citizens. Nor is it because those with mental health issues are treated in prisons instead of hospitals. And it’s definitely not due to the massive underground user base forced to hide from military style police units. It’s because drug addicts and drug users are selfish, immoral and dangerous. Why else would we need protection from them?

Runners Up:
•International Taskforce on Strategic Drug Policy [website]
•International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) [link to article]
•Drug Free America Foundation [website]

Worst Australian Anti-Drug Organisation in 2010
•Drug Advisory Council of Australia Inc. (DACA) [website]

Runners Up:
•Drug Free Australia (DFA) [website]
•Drug Salvage Campaign (The Drug Free Ambassadors Australia) [website]
•Get Off Drugs (Narconon/Scientology) [website]

Worst Comment in 2010
Sir Ken Jones (Deputy Victorian Police Commissioner) - [3AW]
I think you have to look at it (drug courts), case by case because people who are absolutely addicted beyond help, they should and will be punished ...

The focus away from catching and jailing addicts is becoming standard practice around the globe as police target the big dealers rather than those suffering an addiction. But Victorian Deputy Police Commissioner Sir Ken Jones has a different view. Although he did mention treatment as part of the process, Jonesy let slip his desire to punish addicts, especially those “beyond help”. Yes Ken, we need more addicts in jail because that works so well.

Runners Up:
Ted Baillieu (Victorian Opposition Leader) - [NineMSN News]
Research showed cannabis was a gateway drug into more dangerous illicit drugs, with most heroin and cocaine users first experimenting with cannabis.

Maybe Ted would like to produce the research for his claim? And Ted, I mean quantified research … not opinion pieces from The Herald-Sun.

Graham Jacobs (Western Australian Minister for Mental Health) [link to article]
Solutions need to be based on the evidence, not driven by popular, and often misguided notions of how harms can be reduced.

Harm reduction is popular and misguided? Harm reduction is only popular amongst doctors, concerned citizens and experts. Jeepers, who would want that misguided bunch putting forward their suggestions? An incredible comment to make for a health minister.

The crunch is that the WA government’s proposed drug policies have no scientific basis whatsoever and they actually rejected all the evidence put forward by the experts. In fact, there are dozens of recent reports slamming their proposals for being void of any evidence.

Michael Wright (SA Police Minister) - [Government Media Release]
These passive alert drug dogs and their handlers have clearly been working hard. They’ve made a significant dent in the drugs trade on our streets.

Has anyone noticed the sudden absence of drugs on our streets? Maybe a few more sniffer dogs and the drug problem will be solved.

Steve Fielding(Family First) [link to article]
The Greens are up to their old tricks. They’re soft on drugs and really this is the wrong message to be sending Australia. We’ve got a huge street violence issue and going soft on drugs is going to make it worse not even better.

I would love for Steve to show me where being "Tough on Drugs" has decreased street violence. Mexico? Baltimore? Western Sydney? And how does being "Soft on Drugs" send the wrong message? I think advising people how to avoid dying from an overdose is a pretty good message.

Silliest Comment in 2010
Steve Price (Shock Jock) - [3AW]
OK Thank you John, John Rogerson CEO from the Australian Drug Foundation. Can we work out what the Australian Drug Foundation actually is? So I can tell people why that bloke has got such a stupid, soft view of the world. What a dumb thing to say. What an absolutely stupid thing to say. What are the Australian Drug Foundation? A marketing arm for drug dealers?

Absolutely classic Steve Price. Someone should tell him to research his guests before he queries the validity of Australia’s leading drug and alcohol prevention organisation.

Runners Up:
Kevin Zuccato (AFP Assistant Commissioner) - [Brisbane Times]
I think what this demonstrates across the board is just how insidious organised crime is and the callousness of these individuals who would choose to hide narcotics in kids' toys and possibly put kids at risk.

Of course these toys stuffed with drugs, worth tens of millions of dollars are destined for your local toy store. I wonder what the chances are of a drug trafficker forgetting where his multi million dollar stash is?

Brian Taylor (Sports Announcer) - [3AW]
I gotta say, I sat down with a 14 year old male son of mine and a 18 year old son and both said to me, that they were confused and that it appears that it’s OK to take drugs because if you take drugs and play sport, you will win a Brownlow, a premiership and you’ll have a lifestyle like Hollywood. They were really confused about it … really confused about the successes of it and to me it’s a bit of a worry. It glamourised the whole thing I thought. 

Really confused? Maybe there should be an award for the ‘Parent with the Stupidest Kids’.

Bob Falconer (Former West Australian Police Commissioner) - [The Australian]
Years ago, heroin was an analgesic -- they got sleepy, they got dopey. Now they're using drugs that give them the strength of five human beings and make them extremely unpredictable and violent.

I thought we had seen the end to the hysterical claims about ice and violence but up pops Bob Falconer with this cracker. Falconer’s comment brought back memories of the 1980’s drug PCP that reportedly gave users superhuman strength. Of course, there is no drug known to mankind that greatly increases your strength and Bob’s comments sound like a scene from a Popeye carton. You know … a can of spinach and Popeye suddenly has superhuman strength. Maybe this is where Bob got his information from?

Brett Murray (Down to Earth Youth Counsellor) - [Sydney Morning Herald]
There's going to be people out there who commit pre-meditated murder - do we make sure that we have a little pamphlet saying `(ok,) but make sure that you do it in groups'?

That’s right, Brett. Using drugs and pre-meditated murder are almost identical. Isn’t anyone worried that Brett is a youth counsellor who teaches kids about drugs?

Rebecca Wilson (Sports Journalist) - [The Herald-Sun]
Admissions of weakness are not such a bad thing. Demetriou and Anderson simply must throw out the rule book and start again. Consult those at the coalface who live and breathe club footy with dozens of young men at their physical and professional peak.

Yep, lose the medical stiffs and employ the wisdom of a footy club. I know I would feel much better knowing someone was being treated for a complex medical condition by a football club administrator, a handball coach or the orange boy.

Most Overused Phrase in 2010
•Do the crime then do the time!

If you read the comments section from any drug related article, you can count on at least 30% of readers saying ‘Do the crime then do the time!’. It’s how bogans attempt to show us how clever and wise they are about an issue they really know nothing about.

Runners Up:
•Send the wrong message
•We are making a dent in the drug market
•Drug busts are about keeping the public safe

Biggest Deception in 2010
•The various claims that drug busts are eliminating drug use from our community

Runners Up:
•Mephedrone beat-up [link to article]
•Exaggerated harm from cannabis and ecstasy use
•The Faces of Meth Campaign [link to article]

Biggest Deception from a Political Party in 2010
•Victorian Liberal Party - Exaggerating cannabis harm for healthy adults / ignoring the dangers of banning drug paraphernalia

Runners Up:
•Victorian Labor Party - John Brumby claimed that there was no evidence supporting a safe injecting centre for Melbourne [link to article
•Tasmanian Labor Party - Printing flyers that accused the Greens of wanting to legalise heroin [link to article]
•Family First - Claiming that the Greens want to put a ‘heroin injecting room’ on every corner [link to article]

Biggest Deception from a Non Political Person or Group in 2010
•Gary Christian (DFA) - The failure of MSIC

Runners Up:
•Drug Free Australia (DFA) - The report titled Cannabis: suicide, schizophrenia and other ill-effects [link to article
•Victoria & NSW Police - High profile drug busts are eliminating drug use from our community
•Deputy Police Commissioner Sir Ken Jones - Claiming that drug experts are naive for recommending a change to our drug policy and there are no alternatives to a current drug laws 

Worst Comment from a Reader in 2010
People say that a junkies addiction is a sickness, but I say who cares. The world would be a million times better off if they all just over dosed and stopped burdening the rest of the world with their sick filthy selfish habits
Posted by: timothy.karas of 680 Goerge Street 
Article: Girl, 6, Jabbed By Needle In Restaurant

Runners Up:
Absolutly shocking thing to happen to some one, I wonder whom the scum bag is, whom did this terrible thing, most proberly some junkie scum bag who's been released on bail for drug offences, bashing, car theft etc etc, let out by Doo- gooders to go out and maime and kill. dispicable! 
Posted by: Fairgo of Tinonee 
Article: Violent End To A Beautiful Life For Murdered Michelle Morrissey Of Mudgee

Why should we waste tax payers money on educating drug addicts even further. Everyone knows the results of taking drugs. I hope these drugs kill all the drug addicts out there. I won't feel sorry for them one bit.
Posted by: locky of sydney
Article: Drugs Cocaine And Ecstasy Laced With Poison In Australia

in a sense who really cares what happens to these drug abusers, one way to clean our back yard out, though it may impact on our televisions shows as half the actors will be eradicated by the sound of it. Look at it this way , what a way to rid the streets and high class clubs of drug peddling , most the club onwers in the cross would be broke and crime rate would drop. Why are we trying to protect these people who make it possible for the dope smugglers to exist ?..they deserve what they pay for. 
Posted by: just another disalutioned person
Article: Drugs Cocaine And Ecstasy Laced With Poison In Australia

Honestly these rooms and the whole methodone program need to go. Who really cares if these people use dirty needles and die..I for one would think it was a good thing, these idiots not only ruin there own lives but those of their families and loved ones but are now invading the lives of everyone. Many of them steal to support their habbits, continue to have babies who suffer untold pain and distress after they are born..Really people need to stand up and wake up...These users are not a worthwhile part of society...we support them as they don't work and don't care..I say get off it or OD we do not need you here or anywhere
Posted by: Loretta Hanley
Article: Drug Injection Room Will Stay In Kings Cross

Strangest Comment from a Reader in 2010
Its a very dodgy area around there. Wouldn't surprise me if most of them were druggies financing their habit. Its when local residents get propositioned that it becomes bad. How about some undercover policewomen around there?? This is what they do in the movies & it seems to work!!!
Posted by: pinkmini of Perth
Article: Brazen Street Prostitutes Working Close To Perth Police HQ
Source: PerthNow

Runners Up:
Yet another chemical concoction that kills to be banned, so it's more than likely going to be the most popular thing on the drug scene within days. Maybe it's time to take a different tact. I still believe that illegal drugs should be illegal but maybe if we just stop attending to the people who take them and overdose on them and let them die then maybe that's the only way to get the message through that people who take this stuff are truly dicing with death. Those who peddle in the stuff get for the term of their natuaral life jail terms and those who end up with mental illness's because they're frying their brains with the chemicals get locked up in mental institutions. How about we, as a society let the chips fall where then maybe common sense will come back into vogue and these shinning examples of stupity will be a lesson to the rest of what NOT to do. How about that instead spending billions on education that clearly isn't working and spend those billions on support services for the families left behind by the stupid acts of their family and the elderly. Just a thought.
Posted by: Tracey
Article: Drug 'Miaow-Miaow' Banned After Deaths

It is well known that Australia has the fourth highest population of people addicted to illicit substance in the world...... drug addicts galore! Now for a country with such a small population that is quite and achievement. I am sure if some substances were legal we would have the highest level of addicts in the universe! We should change the name of the country to Drroooogstraaaaliiiia.
Posted by: Zalco of Melbourne
Article: Big Rise In Cocaine Use In Victoria As The Price Drops To $20

Do the crime, Do the time. Very sad that she has gone crazy, but it happens.
Posted by: Mr Average of Rockvegas
Article: Schapelle Corby Pleads For Reprieve For Her Health

Andrew you are 100% correct on rejecting injecting rooms. 
Drug taking weak brained scum couse so much misery in the world,should be interogated to find the pushers and both locked up to get them off drugs. But our systems are so corrupt that drugs are even distributed in prisons.
Posted by: Jan of Melbourne
Article: Andrew Bolt Blog - “Safe” Injecting Rooms

Funniest Moments in 2010
Digital Drugs
Drug hysteria reached a new a high in 2010 as the dangerous new trend called iDoses hit the news. For a few bucks, you can download an audio file called an iDose and get high without ever ingesting anything. Kids can choose from a selection of audio files like ‘heroin’, ‘LSD’, ‘Cocaine’ etc., put on their headphones and … er, well listen to a noisy audio file. While kids all over the US, high on iDoses were busy posting videos of themselves on YouTube, the media kicked into action. And it was our own, Sydney Morning Herald that led the way. They reported that parents and educators were outraged that iDrugs were legally on sale through a website.

It was the US though that actually acted on this new scourge. In the Mustang district of Oklahoma, some schools reported students downloading these files so the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs issued a warning to children. Other schools in the district sent out letters to parents warning them that the new trend had caused physiological effects on some students after trying one of these digital downloads. It even made the nightly TV news.

For the record, ‘iDoses’ are binaural soundtracks which have been used since the 1960s to force the brain to enter different states of consciousness. They are harmless.
Runners Up:
Misspelling Darren Marton’s Name
Poor old Darren Marton. As a budding politician running on the theme of anti-harm minimisation, you would think that being quoted in the media would be something positive. Unfortunately for Darren, in early 2010, a Sydney Morning Herald article misspelt his name as Darren ‘Martin’. Not a good look for one of the article’s so called authorities. Several months later, Darren’s wisdom was again quoted in an article by fellow anti-drug supporter, Miranda Devine. Imagine his surprise when he noticed that once again, they misspelt his name, this time as ‘Darron Martin’. A real kick-in-the-pants for Darren and the importance of his message. It makes you wonder how accurate these articles are when they can’t even print the correct name for their star anti-harm minimisation prophet.

The Return of The Gateway Theory
It was another year involving babbling politicians but 2010 was special. It was the year when The Gateway Theory made it’s come back courtesy of various politicians trying to prove how tough they were on drugs. The previous year had the WA premier and some of his cronies resorting to all sorts of dubious and outdated claims about cannabis as they tried to repeal the state’s drug laws. The biggest shock though was their attempt to drudge up that old myth, The Gateway Theory. We were told by Colin Barnett and co. that cannabis led to harder drugs. Only this time, it wasn’t just experts and health professionals who shook their heads in disbelief but much of the general population. But sometimes, politicians are a strange lot. Many of them plodded on with their anti-drug agenda regardless of the facts or the realisation that making absurd claims involving The Gateway Theory didn’t win the WA government any votes and certainly wasn’t a smart move in an evidence focussed 2010. But plod on they did.

The number of times politicians claimed that we need tougher laws because cannabis led to hard drug use was simply astonishing. They wouldn’t use out-of-date or flawed research when discussing other health policies or overlook the scientific consensus when planning for medical procedures. But the issue of illicit drugs seems to be void of using quantified, scientific research and we are so accepting of any old thing a politician wishes to say. The Gateway Theory is a myth and has been debunked many, many times. It originated in the US back in the 1930s and was laughed at by the scientific community then. The only supporters of The Gateway Theory are anti-drug nutters, agenda driven politicians and those who refuse to accept the facts. Like putting hot water on sunburn, encouraging smoking because doctors smoke or anti-vaccination spin, The Gateway Theory is a an old wives tale and has no scientific application in a modern society.
Mephedrone Madness - Miaow Miaow, Woof Woof And A Missing Scrotum
It may have been the strangest comment of the year when AFP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Zuccato said this about Mephedrone: ‘There have been dangerous deaths linked to miaow’. Luckily for us, Assistant Commissioner Zuccato cleared up our concerns that deaths can be dangerous. Hang on … did he also say, ‘Miaow’? Did he really mean, ‘Miaow Miaow’, the latest killer drug to hit the streets. But since no one actually calls it ‘Miaow Miaow’, except in the media, abbreviating it to just ‘Miaow’ might at least give the impression that he has some street cred.

So what is ‘Miaow Miaow’ and what’s all the fuss? Mephedrone or 4-MMC is a speed like drug derived from the khat plant and was one of the “legal highs’ in Britain that has created so much attention of late. Funnily enough, it has been sold legally for years in the UK and shipped to dozens of countries around the world with very little attention or reports of abuse. It wasn’t until several countries started to ban the drug that we suddenly saw reports of death and destruction.

Like all good panics about new drugs tempting our vulnerable kids, the media and the authorities were prepared to jump on any snippet of news regarding this new scourge. It didn’t matter if they were true or not. There were numerous, baseless articles about users high on mephedrone going to hospital with one person reportedly cutting their finger in half and someone else attempting to circumcise them self. The Sydney Morning Herald even reported that one user in Sydney attempted self castration (ouch!). Coincidentally, a similar story prompted the Durham police in the UK to issue a public warning, only this time it was reported that the user had attempted self castration with their own bare hands (double ouch!). Although that doozy just turned out to be the result of an over zealous police officer it was still considered newsworthy enough to make the Sydney Morning Herald.

As the news spread, the number of dead rose until the media and authorities settled on the claim that ‘Miaow Miaow’ was linked to 25 deaths. The magic ingredient was the term, ‘linked to’. In fact, only a few people were ever confirmed to have died solely at the hands of mephedrone as the others had a concoction of drugs in their system with mephedrone being ruled out as the cause. Surprisingly, much of the media, police and authorities still deceptively claim that ‘Miaow Miaow’ is ‘linked to’ 25 deaths.

The hype should have ended there but a good drug beat-up is hard to let go of for the Murdoch press. The Sun (UK) reported that a new, even deadly drug was about to storm the drug scene. MDAI or what the Sun called, ‘Woof Woof’ was the next drug craze and it was set to replace ‘Miaow Miaow’ as the drug of choice for British kids. Strangely, the only reference to it, reported in Australia was by another Murdoch media outlet, Searching through various drug forums since the article, ‘Woof Woof’ barely gets a mention and has rarely been seen. That’s if it was ‘Woof Woof’ at all. Meanwhile, authorities are waiting patiently for “Tweet Tweet” and “Cock-a-doodle-doo Cock-a-doodle-doo’ to hit the streets.

Worst Anti-Drug Article from the Mainstream Media in 2010
•A Dangerous Idea That Stubbornly Refuses To Die (Miranda Devine - The Daily Telegraph) [link to article]

Runners Up:
•Ecstasy Tablets Kills More Australians (Lisa Mayoh - CourierMail) [link to article]
•It's One Set Of Rules (Rebecca Wilson - The Daily Telegraph) [link to article]
•Drug Addiction Is Not A Disease (Derryn Hinch - 3AW) [3AW]

Funniest Anti-Drug Article from the Mainstream Media in 2010
•When It Comes To Doing Drugs, The Message Should Be "Just Say No" (Staff Writers - The Daily Telegraph)

No wonder no one was brave enough to attach their name to this article. This is the trash media at their best. The article is a cautionary tail of sending the wrong message - ‘Drug education should primarily be about preventing drug use, not minimising the harm - basically to stop disaster before it occurs’ writes the anonymous hacks. The writers goes on to say, ‘The Government needs a tougher policy that sends an uncomplicated, unambiguous and more easily understood message to everyone - young and old - to just say no to drugs’. Only a hack writer would miss the obvious - the government already does this. The policy of harm minimisation happens to target the bulk of drug users who don’t ‘Just Say No’. It’s not a case of one strategy or the other but a multi-prong approach to capture both potential and existing drug users. The hack writers would know if they had done their research. 

I’m sure Nancy Reagan would be proud that her ‘Just Say No’ message has carried on into 2010. But maybe the hack writers should have pointed out that the face behind the ‘Just Say No’ campaign, Nancy Reagan and her US president husband, Ronald are responsible for the greatest social policy catastrophe, the US has ever experienced. Their anti-drug campaign stripped treatment centres of their funding, stopped federal support for needle exchanges and exploded the prison population of nonviolent drug offenders from 50,000 to 400,000 in 17 short years. They created the crack-cocaine disparity laws, expanded mandatory sentencing and helped give the US one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the western world. Yes, anonymous hack writers, we need more ‘Just Say No’ strategies and more "Tough on Drugs" failures.

Runners Up:
•Cannabis 'Leads To Drink, Hard Drugs' (Staff Writers - Sydney Morning Herald) [link to article]
Delayed Justice Comes At A Cost To Community (Editorial - The Adelaide Advertiser) [link to article]
•Worrying Side Effects Attached To Drug (Andrew Drummond - Sydney Morning Herald) [link to article]

Worst Comment from a Political Party in 2010
Ted Baillieu (Victorian Liberal Leader) [website]
A Victorian Coalition Government will ban the sale of bongs to reduce the harm to Victorian families caused by cannabis and stop Victorians using dangerous drugs 

Runners Up:
Andrew Stoner (NSW Nationals Leader) [link to article]
To put out a pamphlet that says Guide to a Better Night ... I think it's sending a message that to have a good night you ought to be taking drugs.

Mike Rann (SA Premier - ALP) [Sydney Morning Herald]
I just think that it's incredibly irresponsible for any political leader to attend a rave party … it comes down to values.

Michael Mischin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General; Minister for Corrective Services - LP ) [website]
Cannabis is not a ‘soft’ drug.
It is not a ‘recreational’ drug.
It is not a harmless drug.
It is a gateway drug.

Use of cannabis also increases the risk of mental illness such as schizophrenia. It is a drug that ruins lives and I am proud that we have reversed the failed policy of the previous government.
Yes, these are tough moves but we need strong laws like this that send the right message about cannabis – that it is dangerous.

Major Political Party with the Worst Drug Policy in 2010
•Christian Democratic Party

Runners Up:
•Family First
•The Liberal Party
•The National Party

Junk Science Claim from 2010
•The Kings Cross Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) only saved 4 lives - Gary Christian (DFA) 

Runners Up:
•Fairfax Misleads Public About Cannabis Study [link to article]
•Cannabis is a Gateway Drug - WA Liberal Party
•Exaggerated harm from moderate use of cannabis and ecstasy(MDMA)

Most Biased Anti-Drug Journalist in 2010
•Miranda Devine - The Daily Telegraph

Runners Up: 
•The Daily Telegraph Editorial Team
•Andrew Bolt - The Herald Sun
•Rebecca Wilson - The Herald Sun

Most Dubious Politician (Drug Propagandist) in 2010 
•Ted Baillieu (Victorian Premier - LP)

Runners Up:
•Mike Rann (SA Premier - ALP)
•Steve Fielding (Family First Leader)
•Michael Mischin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General - WA)

Most Dangerous Anti-Drug Campaigner Internationally for 2010
•Peter Hitchens
The Daily Mail - Blogger (Mailonline)

If ever there was a fundamentalist nutter, it is Peter Hitchens. He believes that capital punishment is the key to a strong justice system, the Christian faith underlies a successful society, gays do not deserve equal or even legal partnership rights and abortion should be illegal. You get the picture.

The sly, dishonest propagandists who claim that the ‘War on Drugs’ has failed really do need to explain what war this is, exactly, and when it was ever fought’. [website]

Of course, one of his strongest beliefs is that drug use is a crime. He despises most modern treatment programs and is a crusader for tougher, zero tolerance laws. He regularly writes about drugs on his blog and goes to great lengths to circumvent science, quantified research and established facts. Those with opposing views are often duplicitously criticised as he cherry picks their response in the comfort of his own surroundings. 

My view, that a straightforward punitive approach would have been far better for all involved, has plainly not been tried - not because it wouldn't work (it would) but because the authorities do not have the moral courage to apply it. This is the real argument between those who view some acts as wrong, and those who excuse them.
-Commenting on the successful Heroin Assisted Treatment program in Switzerland

Runners Up:
•Calvina Fay (Drug Free America Foundation)
•Robert DuPont (Anti-Drug Crusader)
•Theodore Dalrymple - Real name: Anthony Daniels (British writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist)

Most Dangerous Anti-Drug Campaigner in Australia for 2010
•Gary Christian (DFA)

Runners Up:
•Darren Marton
•Jo Baxter (DFA)
•Steve Fielding (Family First Leader)

Low Point in 2010
•The failure of Queensland’s Social Development Committee to take on evidence and the advice of experts in their Inquiry into Addressing Cannabis-related Harm in Queensland [website]

Runners Up:
•The lack of action from our government involving incarcerated Australians on drug charges overseas. Especially Peter Gray, Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine [link to article]

•The failure of the Australian government to act on expert advice regarding drug policy when research clearly states that current strategies are failing [link to article]

•The failure of the Australian government to endorse the Vienna Declaration [link to article]

The Bucket Head Hall Of Fame
•Christopher Pyne - Politician (Liberal Party)

Liberal Party head kicker and anti-drug workhorse, Chris Pyne made his name as the yapping lapdog behind Australia’s "Tough on Drugs" strategy. For years, Pyne’s boofhead was everywhere spelling out the government’s agenda to eradicate drugs, drug dealers and the idea that harm minimisation was our official drug policy(it is). 

It was during his tenure as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing when Pyne gained his infamy. Especially rememberable was his ‘Soft on Drugs’ slur that he directed towards anyone who supported an alternative to the government’s "Tough on Drugs" strategy. For Pyne, there was no alternative. Those offering up science, research and expert advice that didn’t suit the government’s agenda were just being "Soft on Drugs”.

His most famous moment though was probably when he claimed that cannabis was as dangerous as heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. Although his claim had many rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter, he was deadly serious. Maybe that’s why it was so funny? But the reality wasn’t so funny for those seeking treatment. His beloved "Tough on Drugs" ideology was a direct assault on harm minimisation and for Pyne, Howard and co., drug users deserved contempt and needed to be punished. Those considering treatment were now in danger of facing a reduced range of options as the government pursued a shift towards abstinence only programs. Pyne championed this new strategy which included the move to heavily cut back on opiate substitution programs like methadone treatment.

Christopher Pyne and his rants might have faded into the history books of shame but the aftermath lives on. Australia has never fully recovered from the Howard government’s assault on drug users and Libs everywhere remain committed to push on with Pyne’s crusade. Although most of Pyne’s claims have now been debunked or revised, he remains a reminder of how dangerous the anti-drug brigade can be when in power.

The Bucket Head of the Year - 2010
The ultimate anti-drug zealot who made a huge impact on the downfall of humanity and sensibility in 2010

Jo Baxter
Drug Free Australia (DFA) / The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD)

2010 was a cracker year for Jo Baxter. As those who subscribe to the ADCA (The Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia) drug forum would know, Jo made dozens of contributions throughout the year although they usually resulted with members providing clarifications, corrections and evidence to the contrary of her claims. Luckily, there’s plenty of ADCA subscribers who are not shy to set the record straight when Baxter or DFA co worker, Gary Christian wear out their patience. It seems clear to me that most members don’t appreciate their time wasting efforts or want to hear anti-medical marijuana rants, opposition to the Vienna Declaration or attempts to discredit sucessful harm minimisation programs.

What amazes me is how Aunty Jo managed to find the time for so many contributions to the ADCA drug forum while also occupying several positions with anti-drug groups. For the record, Jo Baxter is the Executive Officer at Drug Free Australia (DFA), Vice President of The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) and has a role with the ADCA. It seems like busy timetable, even for a dedicated propagandist like Baxter. 

Apart from driving the subscribers crazy on the ADCA drug forum and promoting her anti-drug wisdom, Jo was busy in 2010 pushing the “compassionate” policies of DFA and WFAD. In case you don’t know, the term, “compassionate” is the new weapon in the anti-drug arsenal. Ironically, calling these policies “compassionate” (tough laws, incarceration, compulsory drug testing, forced abstinence etc.) has been heavily criticised as a duplicitous attempt to counter the growing claims of being “not compassionate”. 

Compassion please

IT'S a great tragedy of modern times that bureaucratic "red tape" continues to prevent South Australians who want to kick their heroin addiction from accessing a proven recovery method. In order to do so they have to travel to Perth (The Advertiser, yesterday).

It is an absolute disgrace that, in so doing, there is no government assistance for them. If our health officials were truly compassionate, they would be able to overcome these perceived obstacles quickly and effectively.

Drug Free Australia calls on our decision-makers to give naltrexone implants a real chance, under Dr George O'Neil's model. This program has been supported by the WA government for 13 years.

JO BAXTER, Drug Free Australia executive officer and World Federation Against Drugs vice president, Broadview
--Adelaide Now (Letters) 2010

Ah, compassion a.k.a. tough love. Think of the Liberal Parties’ claim that being tough on boat people is compassionate. Their rationale is that imposing tough regulations and conditions on would-be-refugees is compassionate because it deters them from attempting the dangerous journey to Australia … via a leaky boat … commissioned by ruthless people smugglers. Of course, these people are desperate and in a life or death situation. Tough regulations and conditions are not going deter them but simply make their lives even more unbearable after already escaping from oppression and tyranny. 

It’s this leap in logic that defines how the anti-drug brigade thinks. They argue that being tough on drug users is in their best interests and therefore, compassionate. But like the refugee example, tough drug laws just make an already bad situation, even worse. Unfortunately for the anti-drug brigade, most health professionals do not agree with them.

Are forced naltrexone implants, compassionate? Not when dozens of implant patients have since died. There’s an impending investigation into a certain clinic in Queensland where over 25 people have died after receiving a naltrexone implant. Ironically, the clinic was run by Dr. Stuart Reece, a DFA associate and close ally of Jo Baxter. Reece is a well known anti-drug, anti-harm minimisation nutter and often refers to the bible for direction on drug policy. Then there’s Dr. George O’Neil from WA who Baxter refers to in the above letter from Adelaide Now. The reason O’Neil’s clinic is not repeated anywhere else is because naltrexone implants for heroin addiction treatment did not get approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In other words, it’s not safe. But O’Neil’s clinic operates via a special loophole known as a ‘Special Access Scheme’ which allows him to keep up his practice. Incredibly, he also has a string of patient deaths and procedural disasters associated with his naltrexone implant program.

In a related study published in the journal(Medical Journal of Australia), Dr Paul Haber, Head of Drug Health Services at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and his co-authors studied 12 patients who were admitted to hospital soon after receiving naltrexone in oral or implant form. 

Eight of the cases were definitely or probably related to the naltrexone implant, including cases of severe opiate withdrawal and dehydration, infection at the implant site requiring surgery, and a psychiatric disorder.

Is the closing down of needle exchange programs and safe injecting rooms compassionate? Is trying to stop needle exchange programs in prisons compassionate? It is if you don’t agree with the bulk of research into the subjects. Jo Baxter is a member of two organisations that vigorously lobby governments to shut down these services. Both WFAD and DFA claim that the funds for needle exchange programs should be spent on prevention strategies. Meanwhile, those nations that do provide clean needles to users have a much lower rate of HIV/AIDS and Hep C than other countries that don’t. And all without an explosion of crazed druggies causing societal carnage as predicted by the anti-drug brigade. Someone should tell these people that it’s hard to be compassionate to those who have died from blood borne diseases.

One of the factors that won Jo Baxter her prestigious award for Bucket Head of the Year was her tireless efforts at trying to convince experts and health professionals that they were naive and misguided by supporting Australia’s official policy of Harm Minimisation. It sure take balls to offer up wobbly research, urban myths and dubious experts to Australia’s leading AOD workers.

One classic example of Baxter’s dedication is her misguided opposition to the Vienna Declaration. In July 2010, Jo posted to the ADCA drug forum, a media release from several organisations and individuals who oppose the Vienna Declaration.

Media Release – 22 July 2010

Vienna Declaration – International Experts Oppose New Strategies on AIDS Prevention as Ineffective!

On Tuesday, July 20th 2010, internationally recognized anti-drug experts from every region of the world united to oppose a set of dangerous unproven global strategies recommended in the Vienna Declaration ...

Her post included a link to a one page website, which highlights their reasons for opposing The Vienna Declaration. The single page opens to a collection of corporate logos and the headline, ‘Joint Statement in Opposition to the Vienna Declaration’ before going on to the main message.

It’s worth noting that the sneaky title used in the web address(URL) uses “UNGASS” which is an acronym for a United Nations General Assembly Special Session. But has no connection with the United Nations whatsoever let alone a General Assembly Special Session. 

From the media release:

Many of the experts who opposed the Vienna Declaration know from research and practical experience that the optimal way to truly beat addiction, prevent the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and prevent drug-related harm are effective strategies that target drug use and include prevention, education, treatment and law enforcement efforts and do not trade one for the other.

Who are these so called experts that Jo Baxter champions so vehemently? Who would put their reputation on the line and oppose so many respected scientists and professionals?

Jo Baxter, Executive Officer of Drug Free Australia and Vice President of the World Federation Against Drugs says, “It is clear that the strategies outlined in the ‘Vienna Declaration’ cannot be supported by ‘current and reasonable evidence’. 
--From the Media Release

Oh, it’s Jo Baxter herself. Isn’t she the one sending out the media release? Apart from Baxter, the other ‘internationally recognised anti-drug experts’ include several internationally recognised anti-drug nutters. Sven-Olov Carlsson and the notorious Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation might be internationally recognised but experts they ain’t. For example:

Further, we should reject ineffective harm reduction tactics that are not based on scientific evidence while accepting drug use and creating an illusion that drugs can be used safely or responsibly. Such ill-conceived schemes foster the misunderstanding that drug use itself is not harmful and increases addiction
--From the Media Release: Calvina Fay - Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation


We know from experience that a balanced and restrictive drug policy is effective in keeping drug use at low levels … says Sven-Olov Carlsson, .
--From the Media Release: Sven-Olov Carlsson - International President, World Federation Against Drugs

Calvina Fay is a liar. I can recall on numerous occasions where she has made outrageous and completely false claims. To say that harm reduction tactics are not based on scientific evidence is just one example of how devious and deceitful she can be. Harm Reduction was introduced because researchers kept discovering that existing strategies were not working. In other words, the policy of Harm Minimisation was a direct result of scientific evidence. As for Sven-Olov Carlsson’s claim that restrictive drug policy reduces drug use, well we just have look at the US, Australia and the UK to see how successful their ‘restrictive’ drug policies are.

Proclaiming these numbskulls are experts must really piss off those AOD professionals who spend their lives trying to help people with drug abuse problems. Like the anti-vaccination morons or the followers of creationism, their mumbo jumbo is an insult to those who put their faith in science, evidence and history. Why Baxter and co. are allowed to waste the valuable time of experts, AOD workers and the government is one of those mysteries like that of why politicians give them so much support.

It seems that this group of ‘internationally recognised anti-drug experts’ who oppose The Vienna Declaration are simply the usual suspects that occupy the boardrooms of our most notorious anti-drug groups. Take any one member and you’re bound to find them on the board of other, like minded organisation. On the website is a link to a ‘Brief List of Organizations Who Endorse this Opposition’. If you’re looking for a who’s who in the world of anti-drug zealotry, this is it. 

Sven-Olov Carlsson, International President - World Federation Against Drugs
Robert L. DuPont, M.D., President - Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
David Evans, Esq., Executive Director - Drug Free Projects Coalition
Calvina Fay, Executive Director - Drug Free America Foundation, Inc
Institute On Global Drug Policy
National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance
Students Taking Action Not Drugs
International Scientific & Medical Forum on Drug Abuse
Save Our Society from Drugs
The Council on Alcohol and Drugs – GA
Bensinger DuPont & Associates
Drug-Free Kids: America's Challenge
Fayette Companies
Drug Free Australia

Along with Jo Baxter, these are the ‘experts’ who are ‘united to oppose a set of dangerous unproven global strategies recommended in the Vienna Declaration’. And they say things like this:

Illegal drug use also increases sexual violence which in turn results in more HIV infections, particularly among the most vulnerable members of society including women as well as children

and this

The prohibition of illegal drug use does not encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS, but rather it reduces illegal drug use among HIV/AIDS patients, as well as the non-infected population and thereby reduces the population vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection by contaminated needles. Illegal drug use exacerbates weaknesses of the immune system, making individuals with AIDS more susceptible to infection and death. Marijuana use causes impaired immunity, and opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma, life-threatening for individuals with HIV/AIDS. Marijuana also contains bacteria and fungi that put users at risk for infection. Illegal drug use among AIDS patients is life-threatening because these drugs lessen the effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) medications. Nonmedical drug use is associated with increased risky sexual behaviors which promote transmission of HIV/AIDS in a way that needle exchange cannot prevent.

The common thread from ungassdrugs is a drug free world, abstinence and harsh drug laws. The ploy used to spread this message involves cherry picked data, carefully chosen phrases and public fear. You might not be mistaken if the term, propaganda comes to mind.

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.

As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

Jo Baxter’s opposition to The Vienna Declaration is just one of many causes that earned her such a prestigious award like The Bucket Head of the Year. 2010 was a fantastic year for Jo and 2011 has started off just as promising. Given her past performance and her promising start to 2011, I might be tempted to place a small wager on Jo Baxter being a back-to-back winner.

Related Articles:

2009 Bucket Head of the Year
2008 Bucket Head of the Year