Monday, October 12, 2009
WA returns to the dark ages with tough drug laws
Well, the Western Australians voted the Liberals in and now, true to form, Premier Colin Barnett has returned to a harsh prohibitionist regime without a shred of evidence that it will actually help anyone or reduce the harms of drugs.
Police will need no grounds to justify searching anyone they like. This will make it easy for police to persecute people and will inevitable fall harder on people who don't fit the 'normal' middleclass stereotype (although Liberal voters should be pretty safe). No-one can now call Australia a free country.
Premier Barnett even trots out the old saw that cannabis is a 'gateway drug' leading to the use of harder drugs. The fact that 99% or so of cannabis users never inject seems to to have escaped Mr Barnett -- but then ideologies are notoriously blind to fact.
Anyone caught with ten grams or less of cannabis will be forced to attend the Cannabis Intervention Requirement Scheme (CIRS), which will attempt to inculcate prohibitionist myth into the heads. Anyone who does not attend will be prosecuted. The joke is, a five-minute Google search can refute most of the message being preached at these sessions.
Anyone selling 'implements' now faces a $5,000 fine, double for selling to a minor.
But far from protecting young people, these laws will push more young people to improvise toxic 'Orchy bongs' made from plastic bottles, PVC hose and aluminium foil cones. Or will Mr Barnett also ban all those materials?
By driving illicit drugs further underground Mr Barnett also perpetuates an unregulated illicit supply model that contains no mechanisms to block supply to young people. As Dr Norm Stamper says, dealers don"t ask for ID.
To any small extent that Barnett succeeds in reducing cannabis use it's likely that alcohol consumption will rise correspondingly, which is a shame as cannabis is safer than alcohol by any objective comparison -- including in its connection with mental illness which is far less for cannabis than for alcohol.
The bad news is, the Libs are likely to win in NSW in 2011 and are likely to act in a similar way.