Sunday, November 18, 2007

Zero tolerance

A re-elected Coalition government would take control of the welfare payments of people convicted of offences involving hard drugs, Prime Minister John Howard announced today.
Mr Howard said welfare recipients convicted of offences involving heroin, cocaine or amphetamines would have their payments quarantined for an initial one-year period which could be extended in some circumstances.
(Read the whole article here.)
Sounds like a good idea.
Except it's not going to stop people from using drugs. It probably means that people will have to make more money illegally (eg. theft, drug dealing, prostitution) in order to support their addictions.
Zero tolerance doesn't stop people from using drugs. And it actually increases the harm caused by drugs. For example, if heroin was decriminalised, it wouldn't cost much, therefore not many people would have break the law in order to maintain their habit. It would also be much safer to use heroin, because people could actually know the purity of what they were using, and not have to worry about whether they're also injecting talcum powder or Special K. People would be able to inject in safe, clean places, rather than having to do it secretly in dirty laneways and squats.
I expect most voters wouldn't agree with me though. What do you think?
There is more about harm minimisation here.


Daniel Kahn said...

Definitely agree, Christop. Most voters would almost certainly disagree with you due to the knee-jerk reaction "drugs are bad and they're illegal for a reason" that's programmed into us from an early age. Hopefully one day constructive measures won't be so widely lambasted.

David said...

Mate, totally agree with you.

Keep putting the word out.

If you can get your hands on it, check out a book called "Living with drugs". It was in level three at some point but I don't know where it's disappeared to.

Basically it's a pharmacologist arguing from the evidence that our good/bad, legal/illegal drugs mentality isn't backed up by the reality or evidence.

Apparently until the 1950s you could buy heroin over the counter at Australian pharmacies but because the US moralists pushed the UN to put pressure on our government, it was banned.

And that's when it started becoming a problem.

Prohibition doesn't work. Management and education does.

Drug abuse isn't a good thing. It's just not going to go away.

Love your work.


Chris said...

I agree with what you said would theoretically happen if stuff was legalized.


How do we feel about our government supporting drug use in this way? At what point is the government responsible for encouraging these things? The government can do what it may to encourage people to stop drug use, but ultimately, the people have to have a REASON to stop. They have to have something else to fill the void where heroin once was. And a government cannot give that. Which is why they will always do the next best thing and encourage people to stop by making it harder and harder to get drugs with the government's blessing.

Christop said...

I think I'd feel okay about the government supporting drug use in that way, because I think it would make it easier for people to get off drugs if they wanted to, because of stuff like being able to maintain a stable routine, rather than having to spend every waking moment chasing the next fix.