- Possession of small quantities of Cannabis and cultivation of defined numbers of plants has been decriminalised in a number of Australian jurisdictions: South Australia (SA), Western Australia (WA), Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT). In these jurisdictions, expiation/infringement notices can be issued by police when a person is found in possession of a small amount of Cannabis or growing a defined number of plants. Payment of the expiation/infringement notice fine means the person avoids going to court and a criminal conviction.
- Diversionary programs operate under the Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative, part of the Australian Government's national approach to early intervention and prevention of illicit drug use. Under the national framework to tackle illicit drug use agreed by all Australian states and territories, police and courts have the formal power to divert drug users to education, assessment or treatment. The primary objective of the Drug Diversion program is to increase incentives for drug users to identify and treat their illicit drug use early.
- The Australian Institute of Criminology's publication, Australian Approaches to Drug-Crime Diversion (2004) describes the five main types of diversionary programs operating in Australian jurisdictions. Drug Courts are specialist courts that deal with offenders who are deemed dependent on drugs. Trialled in the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and several Australian jurisdictions, the Drug Court of New South Wales (NSW) was the first trialled and evaluated in Australia. As a result of the evaluations it was decided to continue the pilot program.
20 January 2016
Drug Laws By Decree, Not Scientific Fact
The Unquestioning Acceptance by Australian Courts of Irrational Laws Regarding
Illegal Drugs, Leads to Cruel Punishment, and Makes Criminals of Decent People.
Many Australians labour under the misconception that all substances officially labelled as 'dangerous drugs of addiction' are indeed so and should be prohibited. However, there is no reputable evidence that so-called drugs* currently labelled as such across Australia actually cause pharmacological harm. Drug laws have been established by decree and are based on belief, not scientific facts. This means severe punishment for possession and/or use of outlawed drugs, most of which are far safer than alcohol or tobacco, is both cruel and unjust. Governments and regulatory bodies want to conceal the truth about prohibited drugs and maintain world-wide misconceptions to justify the hypocritical, unjust and cruel punishments meted out by courts for infringements. It would seem that in the eyes of our legislators any so-called drugs, except alcohol and tobacco, that give any degree of pleasure must be prohibited and automatically defined as 'a dangerous drug of addiction', whether or not the substance in question actually causes pharmacological harm!
In science and philosophy, truth is what can be demonstrated and proved with facts; and a lie is making a false statement knowing it to be false. The difference in the concepts of truth (and justice) between the disciplines of science and philosophy and the discipline of the Law, are depressing indeed, particularly where drugs are concerned. The legal profession, from the Supreme Court down, supports current drug laws without demanding proof that outlawed drugs are indeed 'dangerous drugs of addiction'. It seems truth has been established by authoritarian decree, in the face of facts and evidence, something we associate with religion rather than secular justice. As the laws are based on things that are untrue, it seems in jurisprudence (the study, knowledge, or science of law) a lie is not a lie if it is ‘the Law’! But is it sensible to make unjust laws so that the Law falls into disrepute?
To rational, free-thinking people it would seem incumbent on our courts of justice to demand proof of the danger of substances before even considering imprisoning people for years, confiscating property and accepting tainted evidence obtained from 'witch-hunts' conducted on hearsay from anonymous callers! But this is not the case. Even though no one wants courts to have the power to make the laws, we should be able to expect them to at least check the veracity of the facts on which the laws are based before even considering adjudicating! For argument's sake let's say we have three drugs, A, B, and C. Drug A is pharmacologically and psychologically far more harmful than drugs B or C in six respects;
i) Death rates, +ii) Addiction rates, iii) Withdrawal, iv) Overdose, v) Destruction of brain/body cells, vi) Behaviour.
Logically and ethically, one would expect the Law to punish users of drug A and prefer people to use drugs B and C. Instead, in Australia the reverse is true. Drug A is feted as the most appropriate social drug while 25 years jail and disproportionate confiscation of property is the punishment for producers and users of drugs B or C. Surely this demonstrates the highest level of hypocrisy and injustice? Is it ethical to insist on obedience to cruel and unjust laws based on false premises? What principle in jurisprudence allows the Law to be used as the instrument for cruelty and injustice? If people prefer to relax with drugs B or C instead of drug A, and thus do less harm to themselves, why should the State want to punish them?
“Major drug offences are among the most serious of crimes. The growing community awareness of the problem has allowed governments of recent times to equate these offences with murder and to provide penalties, including sentences of life imprisonment”. Justice Williams, 1979
In 1980 the Australian (Justice Williams) Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs arbitrarily decided 5kg Cannabis* and 0.3kg heroin was 'trafficking' and any lesser quantities got 5 years, for 'possession'. No penalties for alcohol nor tobacco, Australia's actual drugs of abuse and addiction. The Williams Report was an outstanding example of how the legal mind could come to any conclusion it wants to or needs to (or feels like, it would seem), irrespective of reason or evidence. 98% of drug deaths in Australia are directly attributable to alcohol or tobacco (or a combination of both) and statistics on these deaths remain startlingly similar, year after year.
With a vested interest in the alcohol industry, Justice Williams (who sat on the board of Foster's Brewing) was not objective and incredibly harsh considering the report's list of all the ‘evil toxic effects of alcohol’. Williams advocated life imprisonment for those who make an intelligent and far more rational decision to use non-toxic substances. The multi-volume report, rather than considering the degree of harm produced by various drugs, took the view that Cannabis in particular was not a harmless drug because it produced an 'intoxicating' effect. It concluded removal of prohibitions against Cannabis would depart from the intention and spirit of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, have a domino effect ensuing in stimulating calls for relaxation of prohibitions on other drugs and send a signal to the community that drug use was acceptable. The Williams Royal Commission recommended consideration of relaxation of prohibitions on Cannabis not occur for 10 years, during which time information about the 'drug' and its use would be collected by National and State Drug Information Centres. The Commonwealth government set up a National Drug Information Centre but state and territory centres were not established, making the recommended review impossible.
The National Drug Strategy that commenced in 1985 was designed to engage all levels and parts of government, the non-government sector and community with the overarching approach of 'harm minimisation', encompassing reduction of demand, supply and harm. 'Harm minimisation' is a deceptive title to cover-up the fact that lawmakers have overstated and demonised cannabinoids and opiates in a most dishonest manner. To solve the problem of the evil and cruelty that result from the present drug laws, the public should be told the pharmacological truth about non-addictive cannabinoids and the less addictive, natural opiates.
In 1989 a Parliamentary Joint Committee investigation touched on Cannabis with its terms of reference including the scope and nature of the trade in illegal drugs, the efficacy of law enforcement and the costs and efficacy of prohibition. It concluded; "If the aim of the policy of prohibition was to reduce the use of prohibited substances, or even to minimise access to them, it has clearly failed", and "should the latest initiatives fail to make any significant inroads on the market then it would be appropriate to consider some relaxation of the present prohibitionism as an alternative policy". Since 1998 reported use of all illicit drugs combined has fallen. Within this trend, however, use of some drugs increased and a number of new drugs and trends have emerged including increased use of specific illicit 'drugs' such as Cannabis, cocaine, hallucinogens and increased misuse of over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals such as prescription opioids and benzodiazepines.
The National Illicit Drug Strategy 'Tough on Drugs' was launched in November 1997 by the then Prime Minister as part of the National Drug Strategy (NDS) which has been in existence in one form or another since 1985 (re-named in 1993 from the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse [NCADA]). Both the NCADA and NDS were created with strong bipartisan political support and involve cooperative ventures between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments as well as the non-government sector.
Initiatives at Commonwealth, State and Territory level affecting law and order issues related to drug use include:
Tobacco smoking is one of the largest preventable causes of death and disease in Australia. It is associated with an increased risk of a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, renal disease, eye disease and respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. The Australian Medical Association's (AMA) 2015 statement on tobacco and e-cigarettes notates smoking rates in Australia have declined over the past few decades, but 16% (2.8 million) Australians continue to smoke. Tobacco smoking is responsible for 8% of the burden of disease in Australia. Each year 15,000 Australians die as a result of tobacco smoking. A large scale Australian study found two in three smokers (1.8 million people) will die as a result of their smoking. Tobacco continues to cause more ill health and premature death than any other drug. The Department of Health and Ageing estimated that in 2004–05 the total cost of smoking in Australia was $31.5b, an increase of 23.5% from the 1998–99 estimate. This increase occurred despite steady falls in smoking prevalence since the mid-1970's and a decline in the annual deaths attributable to tobacco use from 19,429 in 1998–99 to 14,901 in 2004–05. Costs did not decrease because the impact of previous decades of tobacco use was still being observed in 2004-05; "... as the lagged effects work their way through the system and assuming that smoking prevalence continues to decline, real smoking costs (adjusting for the effects of inflation) should eventually fall very significantly".
The tobacco industry has often argued both in Australia and elsewhere that it generates much-needed employment and government revenue. A study commissioned by British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) estimated in 1999–2000 about 57,500 full-time equivalent jobs were generated by the demand for tobacco products. This total included 310 people employed in growing, 3,270 in manufacturing, 18,460 in retailing and distribution and 35,650 as a result of the flow-on effect in other sectors. Since 2001 there have been major changes to the growing and production of tobacco products in Australia. Tobacco is now sourced from overseas and two of the three major tobacco companies now manufacture products overseas too.
In the 1990's, the industry directly engaged in several attempts to disrupt the scientific review process. For example, in Australia, the industry mounted a concerted effort to undermine and derail the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC) review on passive smoking, finally published in 1997. The Tobacco Institute of Australia launched legal challenges, attempted to discredit individuals on the working party, commissioned several consultants to make submissions to the working party expressing pro-industry views and the industry primed allies to speak to the media in its support. The Tobacco Institute of Australia had a fair measure of success, publication of the recommendations of the final report was prevented on procedural grounds, no problem with the science or the recommendations themselves, nonetheless enough ammunition was provided for the industry to dismiss the report and its findings widely in the media. The industry also tried to prevent agencies outside of the health sector from publishing damaging tobacco control reports. In 1999 the World Bank published a landmark report on the economics of tobacco control Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, which concluded, tobacco control brings unprecedented health benefits without harming economies.
Smoking prevalence rates for people 14+ in Australia 1991-2013
Alcohol, a psychoactive substance, when consumed in moderation has some benefits including euphoria, relaxation and being a social conduit. However, misuse of alcohol (e.g., binge drinking) leads to a wide range of problems including individual health issues, lower life expectancy, reduced productivity in the workforce and absenteeism, accidents, violence and other alcohol-related offences (e.g., public nuisance offences), as well as drink driving. The total costs to Australian society of alcohol-related problems in 2010 was estimated to be $14.352b. Of this, $2.958b (or 20.6%) represented costs to the criminal justice system, $1.686b (or 11.7%) comprised costs to the health system, $6.046b (or 42.1%) costs to Australian productivity and $3.662b (or 25.5%) costs associated with traffic accidents. This estimate of total costs however does not incorporate the negative impacts on others, estimated at $6.807b.
Costs to Society - Alcohol
Alcohol occupies a significant place in Australian culture and is consumed in a wide range of social circumstances. In general, alcohol is consumed at levels of low immediate risk. However, some people drink at levels that increase their risk of developing health problems over their life, as well as increasing their risk of alcohol-related injury. The 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Australian Alcohol Guidelines for reducing health risks associated with consumption of alcohol stated for healthy men and women, "drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury". In 2014-15, 17.4% of adults aged 18+ consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the lifetime risk guideline. This was a decrease from 2011-12 when 19.5% of adults exceeded the guidelines. A 2013 study cited alcohol use as responsible for 5% of all workplace deaths and up to 11% of non-fatal injuries. The Australian Drug Foundation says the annual cost of absenteeism alone due to alcohol was estimated to be up to $1.2b. In 2014-15, 80.6% of Australians aged 18+ had consumed alcohol in the past year. A further 8.2% had consumed alcohol 12 or more months ago and 10.7% had never consumed alcohol. 85.6% of males and 75.7% of females had consumed alcohol in the past year. 66.2% (two-thirds) of all 15-17 year olds had never consumed alcohol, an increase from 2011-12 when about half (49.1%) of all 15-17 year olds had never consumed alcohol.
2010 data identified non-GST revenue from alcohol taxation as a total of $7.075b received by the Commonwealth. Given the magnitude of this revenue and available evidence on mitigation expenditure by government, an increased proportion of this revenue could arguably be used to implement strategies aimed at further reducing the social costs associated with alcohol misuse. Alcohol causes more than twice as many deaths as road accidents. In fact alcohol kills 15 Australians every day and 5,554 each year. It also hospitalises 430 Australians every day and 157,132 each year. The harms from alcohol cost Australians $15.3b a year (alcohol taxes only generate $7b). Almost 5 million Australians aged 14 and over (26%) had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013. Most of these incidents involved verbal abuse (22%). Around 1 in 5 recent drinkers aged 14+ put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the previous 12 months. Driving a vehicle was the most common risky activity undertaken (12.2% of recent drinkers).
In February 2015 the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) launched findings of research into the ‘hidden harm’ of the impact of alcohol on women, children and families. The research report, The hidden harm: Alcohol’s impact on children and families, finds over a million children in Australia (22% of all Australian children) are "estimated to be affected in some way by the drinking of others" and in 2011 there were more than 29,000 incidents of alcohol-related domestic violence reported to the police (figures drawn from four states and territories with data available). Proportions of Australians reporting risky patterns of alcohol consumption for short term harm at least once in the previous 12 months declined 2007-2010, while those reporting more frequent consumption at this level remained stable. Daily drinking declined 2007-2010 (8.1-7.2%) which was primarily due to a decline among older males.
Illicit drug use declined in Australia between 1998 and 2007, while 2010 saw an increase in use primarily driven by an increase in Cannabis use (9.1%  to 10.3% ) and non-medical pharmaceutical use (0.2-0.4%). In 2008 the estimated cost of illicit drug abuse to Australian society was $8.2b, or 15% of the total burden of disease figure. Deaths attributable to illicit drug use in Australia include deaths attributed to opiates, Cannabis, psycho-stimulants, hallucinogens, other psychotropics and other licit, unspecified and combined drug use. Among people aged 14–24 years, age of initiation into illicit drug use increased from 16 years (2010) to 16.3 years (2013) for both Cannabis and methamphetamines (man-made stimulant, more potent form of the drug, amphetamine, synthesised in 1918 and used during World War II; commonly called 'meth'). Males (18.1%) are more likely than females (12.1%) to use illicit drugs and people 20–29 are more likely to use illicit drugs than any other age group (27%). Older people (50+) generally have the lowest rates of recent illicit drug use but in recent years this age group had the largest increase in illicit use 2010-2013 (8.7-11.1% for 50–59 year olds and 5.1-6.4% for people 60+). No significant increase in meth use was seen in 2013, but a change in the main form of meth used was seen with powder decreasing from 51-29% while 'ice' (crystal meth) more than doubled, 22% (2010) to 50% (2013). People used meth' more frequently in 2013 with an increase in the proportion of users daily/weekly (9.3-15.5%) particularly 'ice' users (12.4-25.3%). Ecstasy use declined among the general population in 2010 for the first time since 1995. Population surveys conducted in 2007 and 2010 showed an increase in cocaine use, although still at an overall low prevalence (2.1% of general population ). Patterns of use remain sporadic.
Experts suggest opioid-related deaths in Australia are increasing as the number of people participating in illicit use of drugs, particularly pharmaceutical misuse, was on the rise (4.2%  to 4.7% ). Non-medical use of pharmaceuticals in 2012 increased 1% since 2007 and was at the highest level seen since 1998 (3.7%  to 4.7% ). The increase in pharmaceutical misuse in 2013 was due to more use by men aged 30–39 (4.5-6.9%) and women aged 40–49 (3.1-4.5%). But the proportion of people using most illegal drugs remained relatively stable (2010-2013) and use of some illegal drugs decreased over the past few years. Declines were seen in use of ecstasy (3.0-2.5%), heroin (0.2-0.1%) and GHB (0.1% to <0.1%) in 2013. In Australia in 2010 there were 613 accidental deaths attributed to opioids among people 15-54 years with 74 deaths in the 55+ age group. Many of these deaths were due to multiple drugs being taken, including prescription opioids (poly-pharmacy). Of all illegal substances, heroin and other opioids were involved with the largest number of drug-related deaths, despite the number of people using them being low compared to other substances. Amphetamines including 'ice' have the second highest death rate of illegal drugs.
Most people in Australia did not support regular use or legalisation of illicit drugs in 2010. Three in five (60.2%) people aged 14+ had never tried an illicit drug. In 2010, 14.7% of people in Australia aged 14+ had used an illicit drug in the past 12 months, an increase since 2007 (13.4%). Many illicit drug users also used licit drugs or more than one illicit drug, most commonly Cannabis (an annual herbaceous plant). Illicit drug use in Australia appears to be moderate to high compared with that for other OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries (more than 30 democratic governments with market economies working together purportedly to promote economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development). In February 2014 an Australian Government Services Report showed the perception of illegal drugs as a problem in Australia decreased from 45% to 37% (2011-12 to 2012-13).
In October 2015, only 7% of Australians surveyed for their views on medical Cannabis said they were opposed to the herb being made legal for medicinal purposes. The survey by Roy Morgan Research asked 644 Australians aged 14+, “In your opinion should the use of marijuana* for medicinal purposes be made legal or remain illegal?” 91% said it should be made legal, while 2% were unsure. The strongest support for legalisation came from the 50+ age group, with 94% of respondents in favour. The age group least likely to support it were 14-24 year olds, but even so, 85% of that group said it should be legalised for medicinal use.
So how can lawmakers continue to justify the legal use of the toxic drug alcohol, which causes permanent irreversible brain and body cell damage (liver, heart, pancreas, foetal and kidney) with an addiction rate of 15%, whilst prosecuting and imposing severe and harsh punishments on those who would choose other non-toxic substances? The human body produces its own non-toxic pain killers, including small quantities of numerous endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids; anandamide [isolated in 1992] and 2-AG [isolated in 1995] for example) and heroin-like endorphins ('endogenous morphine' is an hormonal compound made by the body in response to pain or extreme physical exertion). Endorphins are similar in structure and effect to opiate drugs. They are responsible for the so-called runner's high and release of these essential compounds, alongside the endocannabinoids, enables humans to endure childbirth, perform strenuous everyday activities, block pain, regulate the immune system, enhance reproduction and protect the brain from stroke and trauma damage. One could properly argue those who use cannabinoids and opiates are making a sensible, intelligent decision to use substances which don’t cause irreversible organ damage. Due to the quasi-religious mentality of law makers and enforcers regarding drugs their apparently infinite capacity for deception and self-deception means it is impossible to use reason, logic, facts and truth in the drugs debate. Like those who believe the 'Virgin' birth and the 'Resurrection' on the evidence of the Bible, they believe what they choose to believe regarding drugs.
Heroin and Cannabis are cheap to produce and illegality makes their black market prices and profits high. Police estimates of the value of drug busts is based on arbitrarily inflated black market prices. When police say they made a million dollar drug haul, they’re quoting an inflated street value, if the drugs were legal the value would be more like one hundred dollars! The Law has created a fake scenario, linking drugs with the Mafia, house-burglaries, corrupt police, violent crime etc., as they are linked, but solely because they are illegal! If the truth was told and the laws repealed, criminal activity would decrease. Bad laws create criminals, it’s as simple as that. Interestingly, heroin linctus, to be taken orally, was legally available from Australian chemists up to 1953. Heroin was the drug of choice for child-birth, cancer pain and as a cough suppressant for the aged, besides its recreational use, and the liquid form avoids problems of injection. However, in 1953 the Australian government yielded to the U.N.W.H.O. Narcotics Commission, legislated to prohibit heroin and later signed the International Treaty.
In a letter to The Age in April 1991, John McNicol of the ACT Social Conscience Group wrote: “According to an old English and American common law tradition, trial by jury gave Juries the power to rule not only on the guilt or innocence of a defendant, but on the validity or justice of the law itself. So if a jury finds a law to be unjust, they have the power to invalidate the law and acquit a defendant. Why are not modern day juries instructed on this part of their role? To keep the Law mysterious?” We know the law on Cannabis and heroin is based on lies, so why don’t defence lawyers for those charged with opiate offences direct the juries to acquit because the law is unjust? The US brought on the International Treaty of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and Australia is a signatory to this treaty. Opponents of drug reform say we cannot break the treaty. But since the US, acting through the U.N.W.H.O. Narcotic Commission misrepresented the harm of opiates, Australia could abrogate its obligation on the grounds that its signature was gained under false pretences!
Cannabis was once defined by the Law as a 'drug of addiction', but since that was patently false, it became the vaguer and hence harder to disprove 'drug of dependence' (we are all dependent on water, even addicted) and then a 'dangerous drug of dependence'. Our law makers certainly are very adept spin-doctors! But the Law is attempting to define white as black. When the legal system convicts because Cannabis has been defined, not on facts or evidence, to be a 'dangerous drug of dependence' then the legal system is aiding and abetting injustice and the litany of lies concocted by parliament to justify cruel punishments. In jurisprudence when a law is a lie by all other criteria, it is apparently not a lie by legal definition. Such delusions of infallibility are laughable in religions; distinctly alarming in courts of 'justice'!
Although cognitive studies have suggested Cannabis use may lead to unsafe driving, experimental studies suggest it can have the opposite effect. Epidemiological studies have been inconsistent and have not thoroughly resolved the question. One distinct possibility, however, is that many people who use Cannabis share certain qualities; being young, male and risk-taking. That would increase their risk of road traffic accidents even in the absence of Cannabis use. Two epidemiological studies in New Zealand that attempted to address this hypothesis found the significant relationship that existed between Cannabis use and accidents disappeared after risky driver behaviours and unsafe driver attitudes were controlled for. In other words, the increased risk reflects the characteristics of many of the people who use Cannabis rather than the effects of Cannabis use on driver performance.
Recent reports out of the US states of Colorado and Washington show a decrease in DUI's (alcohol and Cannabis). In the state of Colorado, recreational Cannabis use and possession was regulated in 2012, since then traffic fatality rates have been below the yearly average seen for over a decade (since 2002). There isn’t any evidence to suggest regulating Cannabis will lead to more people involved in deadly car crashes and the assumption that impaired driving will increase because Cannabis use will increase under a regulatory scheme is not supported by evidence. It is worth emphasising that scientific evidence has not found an association between levels of Cannabis use and any national Cannabis policies. In 2015, researchers at the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator reported that drivers with blood concentrations of 13.1 ug/L THC, showed increased weaving that was similar to those with a .08 breath alcohol concentration, the legal limit in most US states. The legal limit for THC in the states of both Washington and Colorado is 5 ug/L, the amount other US states have considered. The study also found that analysing a driver’s oral fluids can detect recent use of Cannabis but is not a reliable measure of impairment.
The belief that somehow traces of Cannabis in fatalities implicate cause is false. In 1999 a Transport South Australia report stated, “the culpability rates for injured drivers who tested positive for Cannabis were no higher than those for drug and alcohol free drivers". Sample results from 2,500 South Australian drivers injured in road crashes for alcohol, Cannabis, stimulants and tranquillisers were analysed by Dr Marie Longo of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology. Her major finding regarded tranquillisers, with a significant relationship emerging between having tranquillisers either at the prescribed levels or above and being culpable in crashes. Dr Longo also found alcohol overwhelmingly played the greatest role in road crashes, was the most frequently detected drug and produced the greatest effects. Conversely, and for some no doubt controversially, Cannabis and stimulants have a negligible impact on culpability. “The most interesting result was the tranquillisers, because of the ramifications it could have”, she said. "If a person took tranquillisers like Valium or Serepax at or above prescribed levels, the chance of being culpable in a road crash would increase from the 53% chance if you had no drugs to 70% if you had the tranquillisers”. Cannabis had little or no effect on culpability in crashes although when combined with alcohol or other drugs, culpability rates rose.
Australia is a highly regulated country and if a company tried to launch a product that was defective in operation, based on dubious science there would be swift action, and probably severe penalties. Unless of course it were a government product, then the perpetrators would line up to take credit and spin their misinformation and dodgy statistics to the credulous media. Meet the Roadside Drug Test with enough defects to trigger watchdog alarms were it not a government scheme, as it produces false positives (with no Australian Standard covering officers who perform the tests). During ‘Operation Saturation’ which targeted the Northern Rivers (NSW) region in June/July 2015, 1,376 people were tested. 246 returned positive results, but when immediately re-tested, 72 (over a third) were found not to be positive at all! The testing is selective for non-toxic Cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy, but opiates and commonly abused pharmaceuticals such as painkillers and anti-depressants, known to impair driving, are not tested for; at the cost of everybody else's safety. A trace amount of Cannabis in a driver’s body possibly days after ingestion will record a positive reading, with no suggestion the substance is affecting the driver. You can fail a roadside drug test not because you are under the influence of drugs, but because of the presence in your body of prohibited molecules, no matter how infinitesimally few they may be as 'drug driving' involves driving when you have drugs in your system. The NSW Commander of Random Drug Testing, Inspector Steve Blair, told the Huffington Post in September 2015; "It is purely a presence offence. In the roadside test, we’re not saying you’re impaired or off your face. The offence is simply a strict liability. If you have it in your system, that’s it".
It is not a road safety measure but an attack on alternative lifestyles and choices that people such as the NSW National Party politicians, Ministers for Police and Roads, both disapprove of. Otherwise it is hard to explain why some drivers are stopped more than once for ‘random’ tests, why police were unwilling to comply with a Greens Party 'Freedom Of Information' request for the scientific basis of the tests and why cocaine users are left out of the net. Incorporating a test for cocaine in the saliva swab would be a simple matter. "There is absolutely no reason (if they choose to) why they can’t do it", said drug detection expert Tony Graham to Sydney Morning Herald journalist Dana McCauley, in November 2015. There is also of course absolutely no reason why police shouldn’t run sniffer dogs through places where bankers, lawyers and brokers are using cocaine, as well as where young people are using Cannabis.
Comparing evidence from Britain and many other countries, the March 2013 UK Wolff Report, Driving under the Influence of Drugs, concluded the level at which Cannabis impairs driving is a blood concentration of five micrograms per litre. The report tabulated driving impairment thresholds of other drugs, including combinations of drugs with alcohol and found the most dangerous to be valium-type medications. Such prescription drugs are the most often detected in drivers involved in accidents and the second most likely after alcohol to be found where the motorist died in the accident. In both Colorado and Washington state, US, the law on Driving Under the influence of Drugs (DUID) nominates THC identified in a driver's blood in quantities of 5ng/ml or higher gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant is 'under the influence'.
One might well ask why has Australian legislation ignored scientific evidence? Mobile drug testing originated in Victoria in 2004 when there was purportedly much less evidence available and other states and territories simply adopted the Victorian model and the drug kits manufactured solely in Victoria (an absolute monopoly), without giving it any critical thought and certainly not doing any research of their own! The other reason for avoiding evidence-based legislation is less benign. ‘War on Drugs’ ideologues are keen to use police in their attacks on unruly minorities. Ironically, some parts of government are beginning to see the benefits of using Cannabis medicinally. Cultural warriors are bitterly resisting this development, which blurs the simple black-and-white, them-and-us dichotomy they operate under. There have already been cases of false positives costing thousands of dollars to fight, of trace drug findings losing people their licences and hence their jobs. World’s best practice would abandon the ideology of the 'War on Drugs' in favour of measures for genuine road safety and perform tests that could identify all drugs of concern, tests that do not produce numerous false positives and tests that measure the actual level of driving impairment of those being tested. Until random drug tests achieve that minimum level of practicality and justice, the public should be wary of the motives of the politicians pushing them.
The 1487 Malleus Maleficarum, the 'handbook for Inquisitors', is a sickening account of the atrocities religions are capable of in pursuance of power and control. Religious witch-hunts lasted 600 years and drug witch-hunts are seemingly going to be as long-lasting because those in control have the same quasi-religious attitude to 'drugs' as the inquisitors had to ‘heresy’. Religious wowsers in the US failed to outlaw alcohol, but found it easier to outlaw opiates because opiate use was majority by ethnic minorities. This has developed into a world-wide tragedy and the history of drug prohibition is disgraceful. Those in authority who know the pharmacological truth on drugs, suppress these truths and keep on with their misrepresentations to justify the existence of the drug laws. They apparently couldn’t give a damn about the hypocrisy, injustice and unnecessary deaths of their fellow Australians ... not even the children.
*Medical definition of the term 'drug' - therapeutic agent; any substance, other than food, used in the prevention, diagnosis, alleviation, treatment, or cure of disease.
The term ‘illicit drug’ can encompass a number of broad concepts, according to the Australian government, including;
• illegal drugs - a drug that is prohibited from manufacture, sale or possession in Australia, for example, Cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy
• misuse, non-medical or extra-medical use of pharmaceuticals - drugs that are available from a pharmacy, over-the-counter or by prescription, which may be subject to misuse, for example opioid-based pain relief medications, opioid substitution therapies, benzodiazepines, over-the-counter codeine, and steroids
• other psycho-active substances - legal or illegal, potentially used in a harmful way, for example, kava, or inhalants such as petrol, paint or glue (but not including tobacco or alcohol)
*Cannabis - Cannabis sativa L., is a member of the Cannabaceae family. Cannabis is the plant genus, sativa (Latin for 'cultivated') is the species (in many plant species names, e.g., rice is Oryza sativa L.), and the 'L.' (not always used) denotes the authority who first named the species, Carolus (Carl) Linnaeus, the Swiss botanist considered the 'Father of Taxonomy'. Cannabis sativa L., is; an annual, herbaceous - denoting or relating to herbs (in the botanical sense), usually dioecious - either exclusively male or exclusively female, or monoecious - having the stamen (male, pollen-containing anther and filament) and the pistil (female, ovule-bearing) in the same plant (hermaphrodite). Thus, as the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party of Australia so rightly point out, Cannabis is a herb!
*Marijuana - Cannabis sativa L., is the correct botanical term, *marijuana is a North American (in particular) colloquialism
Adapted and Expanded from Drugs and the Law, with, Drugs in Australia 2010: Tobacco, Alcohol and other Drugs, AIHW 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian Society 2004/05, Illicit use of drugs NDSHS 2013, Trends in Drug Use and Related Harms in Australia, 2001 to 2013, Tobacco, Accidental opioid-induced deaths in Australia 2010, Illicit drug overdose – prevalence and acute management, Australian Secondary School Students Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, Over-the-counter and Illicit Substances 2011, Australia's mothers and babies 2012, The societal costs of alcohol misuse in Australia, The burden of alcohol drinking on co-workers in the Australian workplace, Cannabis in Context: History, Laws and International Treaties, 'Tobacco control', The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia 2003, Australian Bureau of Statistics-Smoking, Finding alternatives to imprisonment: Drug courts in Australia, The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia 2003, Australia’s Health 2014, Tobacco Smoking and E-cigarettes - 2015, Drug abuse, Policing and Law Enforcement Activity, Sales of Cigarettes and Tobacco Products by Type of Retail Business, Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy 2011, Australia's tobacco industry, Budget 2010-11 Revenue Estimates By Revenue Head, Exposure to ETS Report on Passive Smoking, Curbing the Epidemic: Governments and the Economics of Tobacco Control, Definition of Endorphin Colorado Drugged Driving, Washington Drugged Driving, Drug Driving Law Fails Justice Test, UI studies impact of marijuana on driving, Cannabis and Driving, The Effect Of Cannabis Compared With Alcohol On Driving