Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform

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Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform into Inquiry into methamphetamine and its chemical precursors by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement

A. About Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform 1
B. About methamphetamine 2
1. Forms of methamphetamine 2
2. Methamphetamine as the new crack cocaine 2
A. Market indicators of methamphetamine 2
1. Level of use 4
2. Availability 9
3. Retail prices 10
4. Retail purity 12
B. Seizures and detections 14
1. Detections of clandestine laboratories 14
2. Total Seizures 16
3. Border seizures 16
4. Level of seizure required to put drug dealers out of business 18
5. Drug Harm Index 20
C. Seizure of criminal assets 21
D. Demand reduction 22
1. Prohibition as an extreme form of nanny state paternalism. 22
2. Arrests 23
3. Drug education and media campaigns 26
4. Scare campaigns 28
5. Media influence 30
1. Portuguese decriminalisation 32
2. New-found flexibility in international drug policy 33

Download full submission here >> (pdf format)

Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform to the enquiry of the ACT Standing Committee on Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services into the exposure draft of the Drugs of Dependence (Cannabis Use for Medical Purposes) Amendment Bill 2014 and related discussion paper

Read here >>>


Submission to the inquiry of the Senate Legal Affairs Committee into the value of justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia

It has become fashionable to speak of justice reinvestment as a good thing. Like
any new term that comes into fashion its ingredients should be analysed carefully. One
needs to be prepared to acknowledge that while the term may be new, it raises issues
that have long been the subject of attention. Crime and its causes are the most obvious
ancillary issues: there is no need for a correctional system if there is no crime. The
concept of Justice reinvestment thus embodies what has been encompassed by the
familiar term of crime prevention. Indeed it should give a fillip to that concept. It would
be a much more efficient deployment of scarce community resources if they could be
deployed on programs reduced crime to the point of making the exercise of criminal
justice unnecessary.
Similarly, consideration of Justice reinvestment demands an audit of the
effectiveness of existing policies in promoting or reducing crime. Indeed this submission
will argue that much public policy in the area of crime and corrections is dysfunctional
and promotes the very social harms that it ostensibly seeks to prevent.

Full submission here>>>

Submission on discussion paper on implementation of model schedules for Commonwealth serious drug offences.

It is the case that the direction of this discussion paper follows the same path that has been trod many times before but with no appreciable difference to the state of drug control. 
Past results have not been spectacular
Based on past experience, even though it may seem to make prosecutions easier and more uniform, it will probably make little difference in the long term. The possible prosecution or the strength of the penalties, according to many criminologists, has not been a deterrent to crime. Other factors are usually at play but the discussion paper is narrow and it does not explore a wider range of options.
Drug laws need rethinking
Any proposed changes to the drug laws need to be considered from first principles. A practice that has not been undertaken in the past. But it is well beyond the time when that practice should be instituted.
Australian drug laws have their first principles embodied in the UN conventions and it is instructive to note their preambles: 
        1966 preamble:

The Parties,   
Concerned with the health and welfare of mankind, 

Inquiry of an independent panel charged with reviewing the Effectiveness of Australia’s Aid Program (main submission)
    Supplementary submission here>>

Thrust of submission 
    This submission 
(a)        questions the effectiveness of Australia’s overseas aid program in combating organised crime engaged in the drug trade;
(b)        argues that pursuit of the present program undermines broader and more important national security and social objectives;
(c)        argues that rigorous economic modelling should be brought to bear on that issue; and 
(d)        asks the Independent review panel to call upon the services of internationally reputed economic modellers with experience in analysis of the impact of organised crime.

   According to such experts something like 850 billion dollars a year is being taken by corruption, fraud, and the illicit drug trade from the poorer countries and transmitted to richer ones. One such expert is Raymond Baker of the United States who has worked in the Brookings Institution and the Center for International Policy and is now director of the Global Financial Integrity (GFI). He estimates that: “Ten corrupt dollars go out for every one dollar of development assistance that goes in” (Emmons 2001).

Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform to the Social Development Committee of the Queensland Parliament charged with investigating and reporting on Cannabis: suicide, schizophrenia and other ill-effects research paper published by Drug Free Australia 

.... Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform expresses its regret that the Committee is using Drug Free Australia’s paper as the basis for its inquiry. This is for two reasons. In the first place, the paper does not reflect a comprehensive and accurate statement of the outcome of research on cannabis and, in the second place, the paper does not consider the substantial evidence that exists that the coercive measures recommended in the Drug Free Australia paper to combat use of cannabis will in fact bring about serious ill-effects that will magnify those of cannabis itself while at the same time do little if anything to reduce cannabis use. 

Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform believes that the starting point of the Committee’s inquiry should be formulation of the values that should guide the committee’s deliberations in this important reference. We urge the committee to take to itself two principles: 

  • That the overriding objective should be to safeguard life and promote the physical and mental well-being and social functionality of all; and 

  • That in seeking to forward this objective they should be guided by the best available evidence of what promotes well-being . 

Comments on draft National Drug Strategy

The draft National Drug Strategy 2010 - 2015 was released for comment in December 2010. FFDLR sees serious flaws with the strategy. These concerns include: lack of recognition that the laws, policies and procedures cause harms to individuals, families and communities; lack of leadership, innovation and consideration of overseas experiences, including changes occurring in the UN; lack of balance; and selective use of evidence. Read FFDLR's submission here >>

Submission on drugs and driving 
Roadside drug testing should be about road safety and not just another means of arresting illicit drug users. The submission outlines some conditions that should be implemented in any change in legislation in relation to drugs and driving.

Nobody’s Children Inquiry 
Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform 
to the Inquiry into the Early Intervention and Care of  Vulnerable Infants in the Act

by the Standing Committee on Health and Disability of  the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory 

"Politicians have the capacity to set policy which prescribes measures that servants of government implement. At the very least, this engages the responsibility of politicians to give open minded consideration to a serious possibility that a policy that is within their capacity to change actually harms."

An open letter to the Prime Minister seeking evidence based drug policies.

Dear Prime Minister,

A number of days ago you said that you were preparing to make an announcement on illicit drugs. You have also said that you are determined to tackle homelessness, mental health, education, child protection, and other social problems and that you would bring evidence to bear in policies of your government.

Evidence shows that drugs are a potent factor in a high percentage of all these social problems. No substantial headway in removing the social problems that you have so clearly identified will ever be made unless drug policy is seriously examined. Priority must be given to improving functionality of people with drug problems. But should not necessarily be making them drug free nor attempting to rid Australia of all drugs.

It is these latter issues that has formed the core of thinking about and the implementation of Australia’s drug policy.

The outcome of that policy has been somewhat different from that which was expected.........more

Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform to the inquiry of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services into the impact of illicit drug use on families. Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform. believes that the starting point of the Committee’s inquiry should be acknowledgment of the moral compass that it intends to use in guiding its deliberations. We urge the committee to take to itself two principles:

  • That the overriding objective should be to safeguard life and promote the physical and mental well-being and social functionality of all; and

  • That in seeking to forward this objective they should be open to truth. 

Legislative Assembly Standing Committee on Health and Disability – Inquiry into the use of crystal methamphetamine read the submission here and read the supplementary submission here.
In examining the question of methamphetamine use it is necessary to take a broad historical perspective and to examine objectively the circumstances that has lead the ACT, and Australia, to the point where it is now asking how did we arrive at this point.

It is not possible to examine crystal methamphetamine in isolation. The use of that drug has come by way of changing trends in drug use, changing preferences or fashions, availability and marketing of the drug, perhaps coupled with reduced availability of another preferred drug, and the ease with which the drug can be manufactured in or smuggled into the country.

While the Committee’s terms of reference relate only to crystal methamphetamine, the use of that drug is currently fashionable and at some point in time will fall out of fashion and be replaced by another drug. Thus the Committee should in its recommendations adopt a broad approach and be forward looking, else the problems currently being experienced with crystal methamphetamine will simply transfer to the next most fashionable drug. And it is entirely possible that the next most fashionable drug will be more concentrated and bring with it a whole new set of problems, including as with methamphetamines an unpreparedness of suitable responses. 

The supplementary submission corrects some errors in the charts included in that submission, takes account of information that has become available since or addresses issues that have assumed prominence, such as the banning of ice pipes.

FFDLR views on Australia’s mutual assistance arrangements
FFDLR's submission finds serious deficiencies in the arrangements and recomends: 
The Mutual Assistance Act needs to be amended to broaden the scope of assistance to which the safeguards of the Act apply. In particular, Australia should not provide assistance where a person may be convicted for an offence carrying the death penalty unless the requesting State gives an undertaking that the death penalty will not be imposed or if imposed will not be carried out:
1.      In civil law countries where evidence is being gathered or may be provided that could result in the death penalty.
2.      Where assistance may be provided on an officer level or any other level, irrespective of whether a request is or is not made.


Submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee Review on the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002. In its review of the Australian Crime Commission Act Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform asks that the Committee consider the seven recommendations the group made in its submission dated 14 April 2005 on the 2003-2004 annual report of the Australian Crime Commission.In the present submission Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform makes just one further recommendation. It is that:
The Australian Crime Commission should apply drug market indicators in performance criteria that assess the effectiveness of law enforcement in reducing the supply of illicit drugs to the Australian community.

Inquiry of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee into the provisions of the Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Serious Drug Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2005. This submission focuses on those aspects of the Bill that deal with drugs and in particular with those affecting drug users.  The Bill is misnamed. It is far from confined to serious drug offences by large scale suppliers. It is a radical extension of Commonwealth legislative authority into the criminal law of drugs with potential application to every drug user in the country. Moreover, it does this in a heavy handed way. Actions that in plain language would not be regarded as ‘serious crimes’ will be labelled as serious drug offences to which draconian penalties will apply.

Submission of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform to the inquiry of the senate select committee on mental health into the provision of mental health services in Australia  Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform has just one plea to make to the Committee. That is for it to recognise that the response in Australia to illicit drugs contributes to the worsening crisis in mental health far beyond the adverse effects of the drugs themselves. In particular, we call on the Committee to reject the current disempowering mindset that insists first and foremost that people should overcome their addiction before addressing other problems in their life.

Submission to the enquiry of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission.  FFDLR made 7 recommendation to the PJC.

Inquiry of The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Mental Health Council of Australia into the human rights of people affected by mental illness including the need for better mental health care.

Tougher Drug Laws make Serious Criminals of Our kids 
Draft legislation is being presented to legislatures across Australia to implement uniform "model" drug laws. The proposal is deceptive. It is labeled as a criminal code on "serious drug offences". In fact it extends to much of the ordinary conduct of drug users. The Bill transforms minor players in the drug trade and users into "serious criminals".

Before the 2004 election, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee  rejected a Government proposal to amend the Disability Discrimination Amendment Bill 2003 that would have removed protection against discrimination of those addicted to illicit drugs. The report is here.  Nearly all the 118 submissions made to the Senate inquiry objected to this proposal. The submission list is here
 FFDLR's submission pointed out that the legislation would further entrench the stigmatisation and marginalisation of those suffering from addiction to certain drugs but not others and that the legitimate interests of employers and other was already protected by the legislation as it stood. It was revealed during the Senate inquiry that the Government had not even consulted its own drug advisory body, the  Australian National Council on Drugs. It is possible that the Government will resubmit the legislation during the new Parliament. The submissions by FFDLR and its members, Mr A Benson and  Ms B Barnard are, therefore, still relevant.

Commentary of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform on the Issues Paper: Restorative Justice for the ACT

Inquiry into support services for families of people in custody by the
Standing Committee on Community Services and Social Equity
of the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory

Sentencing Review - Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform’s response to the ACT Government's Issues Paper which called for comment

Inquiry into Crime in the Community: Victims, Offenders, and Fear of crime by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. This submission addresses the relationship between illicit drugs and those crimes that closely affect the community.

Submission to inquiry into the Australian Crime Commission Establishment Bill 2002

Submission to Inquiry into Substance Abuse in Australian Communities by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs

Submission to the ACT Standing Committee on Health and Community Care inquiry into cannabis use.

Enquiry of the Justice and Community Safety Committee into Prisons in the A.C.T.

Prisoner Welfare - Principles for the operation of a prison in the Australian Capital Territory

Submission on ACT Education Policy

Submission on WA Community Drug Summit


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