Drug chat a good start

The Canberra Times, Jan 2 2021

It gives many of us real hope that a wave of open mindedness is moving the ACT towards drug decriminalisation. Ian Douglas (Letters, December 23) admits to being sceptical but scepticism when twinned with preparedness to follow the evidence makes me proud to be a member of this community.

Ian Douglas worries that decriminalisation will lead to the development of a larger black market. To allay this concern he might consider that more than halving the number of consumer arrests in the ACT in 2019 did not boost drug use in the territory (“ACT drug arrests one- fifth nation rate”, The Canberra Times, November 15, p6).

Indeed, wastewater analysis shows the ACT level of use of heroin and methylamphetamine to be below that of the national average. This is consistent with the longstanding comprehensive decriminalisation undertaken in Portugal where the prevalence of methylamphetamine use and injection of heroin is the lowest in Europe.

The open-minded attitude of ACT police as well as the territory’s political leadership holds out the prospect that hitherto intractable social issues can be addressed.

On August 20 all political parties joined in calling for consideration of the feasibility of the extension of the simple offence notices and the Chief Police Officer has recognised that “in many cases people we interact with could be better supported by another service”.

Bill Bush