Monday, September 28, 2009

More casualties in the War on Drugs

It seems Victorian police are improving their tactics in the War on Drugs, resulting in a sharp rise in the number of women being jailed. This might be a 'result' for the police, but it has led, according to a report in The Age, to...
a raft of complaints about the management of the state's female maximum security prison, the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

... community advocates want the prison's general manager, Emma Cassar, removed over a recent spate of near-fatal suicide attempts and drug overdoses and an unpopular restructuring of prisoners' pay.
Drug overdoses and suicide attempts? Gee, what a great outcome. Then, as The Age points out, what do these women do when they are released? What would you do if you were, say, a penniless female parolee with no job or home? The options are not attractive.

And who called a jail "The Dame Phyllis Frost Centre"? The very name would give you the heebie-jeebies. But apparently the late Dame Phyllis was a kindly soul who worked to improve the diet of female prisoners and help them keep their babies with them.

Sounds like things have changed for the worse. It's time to end this unjust and ineffective "War".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Heroin addiction treatment: is forced rehabilitation the way?

Drug Free Australia's Gary Christian is again asserting that harm minimisation measures such as heroin trials or methadone maintenance just keep people addicted to drugs, and Sweden's harsh regime of forced rehabilitation is the answer. His reasoning is that Sweden also has very low rates of drug use, and a 1997 study showed 96% support by the Swedes for forced rehabilitation. It's a seductive thought -- just catch 'em, lock 'em up until they are over the withdrawals and let 'em go to become model citizens, problem solved!

As usual though, Gary Christian ignores several key points made by others in the debate -- could it be that Sweden's Lutheran majority with its temperance tradition is the main cause of both the harsh drug laws and the low usage rate? Prohibitionists always present the former as being the cause of the latter. Maybe not? Drug usage rates in nearby European countries with much more liberal approaches to drugs are as low or lower than Sweden's. This clearly indicates that the harsh approach is not the only way.

Also I wonder if forced rehabilitation (which I understand to mean involuntary incarceration) is very successful. What are the recidivism rates? Mike Ashton, writing in 2007 about outcomes from residential rehabilitation programs aiming at abstinence (the most expensive form of treatment), said:

"Despite the investment made in their rehabilitation, perhaps just 1 in 7 were enabled to sustain abstinence out in the real world and some (conceivably, every single one) of these will have had to enter methadone or other community-based treatment programmes to avoid continued relapse. Of the heroin users among them, within a fortnight of leaving residential care half had returned to the drug. (Gossop M. et al. “Factors associated with abstinence, lapse or relapse to heroin use after residential treatment: protective effect of coping responses." Addiction: 2002, 97, p. 1259–1267)

Added to this is the increased death rate as people with newly low tolerances accidentally overdose. And how many 'abstinent' success stories simply switch to alcohol abuse but are counted as 'cured' by prohibitionists with their double-standard regarding licit and illicit drugs?

And If Sweden is the shining success story it is claimed to be, someone had better explain it to several of their neighbours who must be really ignorant if prohibitionists are right: To quote from Alex Wodak in The Age the other day:

"In 1997, a large Swiss study concluded that for this minority of entrenched heroin users who had never benefited from repeated episodes of diverse treatments or prison, giving them heroin as part of their treatment provided huge benefits, with few side effects. Their physical and mental health improved considerably. Consumption of street drugs decreased. Crime, measured three different ways, decreased substantially. The treatment was much more expensive than the standard methadone treatment, but for every Swiss franc the program cost, there were gains of two Swiss francs.

"Rigorous scientific studies were then also conducted in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Canada. All showed similar results. All were published in reputable journals. This month, the results of a British study were released. Again, the results were similar to the previous studies. In each, heroin was self-administered under stringent supervision. Abundant, high-quality psychological and social support was provided.

"After a decade of heroin-assisted treatment in Switzerland, the treatment is still only provided to a steady 5 per cent of those seeking help.

"This small minority of severely dependent drug users is so important because they account for a disproportionate share of the drug-related crime.

"In a national referendum last year in Switzerland, 68 per cent supported retaining heroin-assisted treatment as a last resort. The Netherlands now also provides the treatment. Earlier this year, 63 per cent of members of the German parliament voted to allow heroin-assisted treatment. All major political parties in Denmark recently supported the treatment."

Could it be that 96% of Swedes are wrong? Or that their solution might be right for their country but not others? These shades of grey have no place in DFA's black-and-white world of harsh judgement. But they exist, Mr Christian, whether you ignore them or not.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

UK heroin trial slashes crime

A UK trial supplying chronic addicts with heroin under medical supervision has produced clear, positive results, reducing use, normalising the users' lives and slashing the crime they otherwise committed to feed their habit, reports the BBC.

It seems everyone wins. Now for governments to grasp the nettle and respond to the evidence. Don't hold your breath.

PS 22 Sep: The Age today ran a piece quoting Dr Alex Wodak recommending prescription heroin in Australia. The interesting thing is the readers' comments -- almost all in favour except a few flint-hearted individuals with an empathy bypass who recommend zero tolerance and execution, without offering any evidence that it actually works.

PS 23 Sep: And here's a firsthand account from a nurse who worked on the UK trial, with comparative costs of different approaches to drug abuse. He paints a a very positive picture of the trial and its benefits. It's a very different outlook from that of prohibitionists who would rather see continuing high rates of crime and death than 'send the message' that drugs are OK by treating addicts. There were 1,952 drug-related deaths in the UK in 2008, 45% from opiates and 39% from alcohol.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prohibitionist campaign struggles with self-contradiction

The prohibitionist group Drug Free Australia is promoting a worldwide petition commending and supporting the War on Drugs. Its header states it is from Parliament House NSW but no Parliamentarian is identified in the document.

The No Place for Drugs Commitment, A Proclamation about the Harms of Illicit Drugs is Co-sponsored by Drug Free Australia and Women’s Federation for World Peace, for whom a web search reveals only a listing in a business directory and the Yellow Pages, with a Seaforth NSW address but no website [I have since learned WFWP is a branch of the Moonies].

The Commitment lavishly praises the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which remains radically prohibitionist and claims to control drugs, despite worldwide evidence that drugs are rife and the War on Drugs kills thousands of people each year.

The Commitment focuses on harms to children and indigenous communities but contains typical rhetoric such as: "drugs control the body and mind of individual consumers, drug crops and drug cartels control farmers, and trafficking and crime controls communities;"
-- which seems to be a tacit admission that prohibition has failed to control drugs, especially after UNODC declared in 1998 it would make the world drug-free in ten years.

Herschel Baker of Drug Free Australia included me in a broadcast email promoting the Commitment. Concerned that their message could actually result in more harm to children, I replied to the address list as follows:

I have read the commitment disseminated by Herschel Baker of Drug Free Australia and commend the concern shown for children, who indeed should be kept away from drugs.

However the core message in the commitment is that prohibition is an effective way to do this. Given the latest claims about an eight-year-old Australian indigenous child smoking cannabis, it is evident that prohibition and the war on drugs has failed in its objective.

The Commitment itself claims that indigenous drug use is 21 times higher than the general population. This recognises that prohibition is therefore 21 times less effective among indigenous communities. Do you seriously believe society can intensify its war on drugs by a factor of 21 to combat this, or that it would be effective?

It's more likely that drug use by indigenous children is a symptom of wider social problems in those communities. What is wrong with the eight-year-old's parenting and environment that leads to the child's cannabis use? And even if prohibition did choke the supply of cannabis to that community, the child would most likely turn to sniffing glue or petrol, or drinking alcohol, all of which are far more dangerous than cannabis.

The cure for this problem is a lot more complex than drug prohibition, and concentrating on this one aspect risks diverting attention from the deeper causes of the problem. The drug use is not the fundamental problem -- it is a symptom of the problem.

The illicit drugs industry rivals the global oil industry in size, so the UN's Antonio Maria Costa's depiction of this as a 'stabilised' market is a hollow claim.

I and many other responsible people who support the reform of drug laws believe regulation and education based on truth rather than one-sided arguments will effect better control over drugs than prohibition, which historically creates the fertile ground for the very illicit industry that it seeks to proscribe.

It must be admitted that drugs are not 'controlled' when they are easily available to any young person in any town in most countries of the world.

I urge you to reconsider your position. Prohibition in fact worsens problems and puts young people at greater risk. I am sure supporters of this Commitment have the very best intentions but the solution they support in fact aggravates danger and harm.


Michael Gormly

The petition today has 25 names including Drug Free America head Calvina Fay -- although a couple of people have signed twice and Herschel Baker's own name is misspelt.

Below is a cut-and-paste of the signature list today -- for the record, as it will probably be edited in future:

Peter Phillips
EDward Kenneth Dove
John Chapman
Nan Ott
Jan Baker
Sandra Bennett
mary gillespie
Chuck Doucette
lynn sanchez
Mina Carakushansky
Elizabeth Pallett
jeremiah ronshausen
amy ronshausen
Bill Cameron
Bill Cameron
David Raynes
Lana Beck
Karen Belanger
Dianne Glymph
Dianne Glymph
Frans Koopmans
Cecilia Piedra
Calvina Fay
chris behrens
Hereschel Baker

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NCPIC hard-wired for bias

The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre is not funded to provide balanced information according to its director, Professor Jan Copeland.

Prof Copeland revealed this to a reporter from The City News who asked her why the Centre failed to provide information about the medical uses of cannabis.

“The free national cannabis information and helpline is not targeted at those who seek information on possible medicinal uses of cannabis and is not funded for this purpose,” Prof Copeland is reported as saying.

In other words, the Centre is tasked to provide only one side of the story. This of course makes a mockery of its claim to be 'evidence-based' as it relies only on negative evidence and must ignore positive evidence – evidence which is sufficient to have persuaded 14 states in the US to legalise medicinal cannabis, because it has been found to help people suffering a number of serious diseases including multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress syndrome and cancer.

A tagline on NCPIC's homepage coyly acknowledges this: "evidence-based information and related harms", it says (my bolding).

This makes a mockery of the term 'evidence-based' because if you acknowledge only the negative evidence about ANYTHING you create an unbalanced picture of it. Imagine researching cars, looking only for harms. Or football, or mountain-climbing. Focusing on only the negative aspects of any of these things (which are far more 'harmful' than cannabis) makes it easy to produce a horrifying picture of death, disease, violence and incapacitation. In other words, demonisation.

So it's fair to say NCPIC, a leftover from the John Howard years, has no more credibility than any political propaganda machine and people should balance its offerings with less one-sided sources of information, such as the myriad links via this site.

We acknowledge that there are harms to cannabis, so in that crucial sense The Kings Cross Times is more balanced and credible than NCPIC.

Just to prove it, we link to NCPIC above. For a really good look at some full-on prohibitionists check Drug Free Australia's site -- then compare their information to some of the other sites linked in the right-hand column. Then there's the Scientology anti-drug site Drug free Ambassadors, members of whom I encountered dressed in identical clothing running around Kings Cross distributing an anti-ecstasy booklet that was almost laughable in its panic-mongering. Ironically the warcry of this bunch of clones was "think for yourself, don't follow the crowd".

Below is a very scientific Scientology graphic illustrating the evils of ecstasy. It's rather good, don't you think?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Jan Copeland spins the evidence

If the worldwide consequences were not so disastrous, it would be almost funny to watch prohibitionists spinning their self-contradictory message. This week Professor Jan Copeland, Director of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) made a startling statement reported in The City News -- nothing to do with me although I write for that journal -- in a story covering NCPIC's recent Cannabis Conference:
The Hemp Embassy also believes that the NCPIC, as an information service, should be providing information to the public about studies that suggest cannabis is not a gateway drug, cannabis does not have a causal link with schizophrenia and that cannabis does not cause lung cancer.

Professor Copeland said: “Each of these studies is of interest, although up to five years old, but none are without significant methodological flaws.”
Methodological flaws? ALL of them? Up to five years old? It's funny how all those studies are common traffic among AOD professionals and I have seen no credible claims that these studies are flawed, whereas many of the studies claiming cannabis is more and more dangerous are quickly exposed as junk science, especially NCPIC's offerings. Further, the studies suggesting cannabis is not so harmful tend to be large population studies, reflecting actual reality, while the studies portraying cannabis as the 'new satan' tend to be very small reductive exercises which are designed to show harm, and usually get all the headlines.

I think this is a case of the kettle calling the 'pot' black.

A great example of junk science is NCPIC's own study which attempted to label cannabis as a cause of (sorry, 'linked with') violence. It did a quick statistical crunch of people presenting at St Vincent's Casualty and found that a lot of the people involved in violence had used cannabis. Never mind that they may have also taken ice, or alcohol, or been beaten up because they owed their dealer $400 (a symptom of prohibition, not the substance). Never mind that St Vincents Casualty is constantly besieged by marginalised, dysfunctional junkies trying to wangle opiate medicine, which would skew your sample somewhat and is another consequence of prohibition. Never mind the St Vincent's Casualty doctor who wrote to the SMH observing that he had never seen an emergency caused by cannabis. Never mind the swathe of studies showing that cannabis does not cause violence.

And these studies are not tinpot little junk studies such as NCPIC's, either. Major, credible evidence reviews consistently find that cannabis is not a cause of violence -- carried out by such bodies as the Canadian Special Senate review (2002), the British Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, SUNY Buffalo's Department of Family Medicine (2005), the US National Drug Intelligence Center, and Oxford University. Are these organisations all producing flawed science, Professor Copeland? Or are you little more than a propagandist on a payroll?

I got all the above references from a new book, Marijuana is safer, So why are we driving people to drink? Funnily enough, another of the 45 footnoted references in the same chapter is a 2007 study by none other than Jan Copeland herself. It showed that 70% of Americans who seek treatment for cannabis are coerced into it by the courts (rather than presenting because they thought they had a problem), which pricks another of the current prohibitionist myths -- that an increase in cannabis-related presentations to doctors shows that today's 'skunk' is super-potent and causing problems which send the 'victims' to the doctor.

Ironically, NCPIC itself seems to be propagating this myth, despite Professor Copeland's own study. A story yesterday in the Townsville Bulletin about eight-year-old indigenous kids smoking pot quoted a NCPIC report:
The centre reported last year 19,000 general practice consultations across Australia in 2008 involved the management of cannabis-related problems.
We have 'drug courts' here in Australia which also give people busted for cannabis the choice of conviction or 'treatment'. This one is a furphy, Professor Copeland, as you well know by your own research. Or are you going to claim your own research is 'methodologically flawed'?

While it is obvious that eight-year-old kids should not be smoking pot, I would suggest that the problem is not the pot -- it's the kid's social environment. If you prevented them smoking pot without addressing the larger social problems, the balloon effect would probably just push them onto sniffing petrol or glue, far more harmful. Would heavier pot prohibition really solve the plight of disadvantaged Aboriginals? Or is it a simplistic red-herring?

But such logic is too deep for the moral panic merchants. The story goes on to parrot all the current myths:
...teachers needed to be more skilled in educating students about the serious mental health issues, including addiction and dependency, depression and schizophrenia, associated with regular use of cannabis.
Oh well, so much for accurate public information.

Pot easier for teens to buy than beer

My personal observation of Sydney teenagers demonstrated that alcohol, which is legal but regulated, is more difficult for under-18s to buy than pot, which is illegal and unregulated. Although teen drinking is a problem, I would guess that alcohol prohibition would see kids drinking illegal firewater behind the bus-stop after school, with worse consequences than we see today.

My perception is backed up by a report from Columbia University which says:
Forty-two percent of 12- to 17-year olds can buy marijuana in a day or less; 23 percent in an hour or less. Compared to last year, this is a 35 percent increase in teens who can buy marijuana in an hour or less (23 vs. 17 percent) and a 14 percent increase in teens who can buy marijuana in a day or less (42 vs. 37 percent). From 2007 to 2008 this represents an increase of 1.4 million teens who can buy marijuana in an hour or less (5.8 vs. 4.4 million), and an increase of 1.1 million teens who can buy marijuana in a day or less (10.6 vs. 9.5 million).

Half of 16- and 17-year olds say that among their age group smoking marijuana is more common than smoking cigarettes.

Marijuana continues to be easier to buy than beer: 23 percent of teens find it easiest to buy compared to 15 percent who find beer easiest to buy.

I found the link to that report in a New Scientist piece arguing that prohibition is ineffective and makes the world a far more dangerous and ugly place. Prohibitionists need to disprove that if they are to be taken seriously.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A voice of reason and compassion

From the voice of paranoid intolerance (see post below) to the words of Pastor Graham Long from the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross:
If drug law reform is ever to take place in this country, the way will not be led by politicians who count the numbers first and consider the issues second. The pompous end of the media seem to be more interested in generating heat than light. I seriously doubt whether some of the "stars" actually believe what they say and print. Alas too, the Church which at times can lead with courage, on this issue is "fiddling while Rome burns". No, if drug law reform is ever to happen in this country, I believe it will be led by parents with broken hearts. Parents who know deep down that the death of their child need not have been. It is grieving parents who just know that the "war" on drugs is pointless: They know that there must be a better way. There are plenty of parents who see in despair the endless resources we are willing to spend on "the war", that makes criminals of people who need help. It is deeply wounded parents who know that police, courts, gaols and more police are not the answer for people struggling with addiction. I may never see it, but I have a dream that one day we as a society will be able to offer help rather than judgement. I cop criticism from the chest beaters for being "soft on drugs" but I speak with love from the gutter not with a gun or a bible on my hip or from a plush office. Countries that are relaxing their approach to drug law are seeing no spike in drug taking. I think drug control makes a lot of sense and that prohibition makes no sense at all. Just to be clear, I think a drug free life is the best life. I think a country without floods and earthquakes is the best kind of country to live in. To prepare for floods; to regulate building codes for the possibility of earthquakes, does not mean that I'm "soft on earthquakes". On this highly charged subject where everyone is an expert, I would recommend that we listen less to Reverend Gentlemen, less to pompous journalists, less to the righteously indignant radio personalities; I suggest we find some parents with broken hearts and listen to them.

Be careful who you elect

The War on Drugs begun by Richard Nixon is a 'berserk aberration' according to a piece in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Nixon believed that dope was being pushed on the US by Jews, communists and homosexuals to promote immorality and weaken the state.

"You know, it's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists," said Tricky Dicky, star of the Watergate scandal.

It's hard to believe anyone with such beliefs could run the world's most powerful nation in modern times, and that a policy underpinned by this paranoia is still being enforced.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Another letters exchange in the Herald

Local resident Sue Hanley and I have again crossed swords in the letters pages over the issue of alcohol restrictions in Kings Cross (after the letters people got me to validate my facts). The reader can judge the exchange to see exactly who is "out of step":

Curbs on drinkers overdue
A move that prevents Kings Cross pubs and and making any changes to their buildings that would bring in more drinkers (''Clampdown on pubs and clubs increasing hours or capacity'', September 5-6) is well overdue. This once vibrant hub of inner city living is struggling to retrieve its sophistication and cultural identity following the predations of nightclub entrepreneurs who claimed Kings Cross as their own. Adrian Bartels, of the Potts Point and Kings Cross District Partnership, in advocating on behalf of the liquor industry, is out of step with the local community which desperately wants an end to the liquor-fuelled chaos it endures every weekend.

Sue Hanley Darlinghurst

Statistical glitch
Sue Hanley (Letters, September 7), says Kings Cross residents want more curbs on pubs. That would be why in a recent City of Sydney survey only 16 per cent of locals wanted fewer pubs and clubs. But neither the council nor Ms Hanley seems likely to let a few facts get in the way of a good moral panic.

Michael Gormly Woolloomooloo

What bemuses me is that Ms Hanley's letters say the same thing over and over, ignoring that the debate has moved on, her points refuted. At least this time she didn't sign herself as a member of the City East Precinct Committee, a self-appointed position on a body that that has no members, has never actually done anything or had a meeting for years, and whose only other member I can recall was prolific letter-writer and fellow temperance activist Andrew Woodhouse. On the other hand Adrian Bartels is the very active president of a business association with over 100 paid-up members. His organisation, along with the Kings Cross Liquor Accord, has offered to pay for extra policing on the big weekend party nights, a measure we know works but is being ignored by the nanny state.

The government's new clampdowns will do nothing except to redirect the mayhem a little, possibly away from the well-managed party precincts. The hypocrisy is glaring as the issue is not about violence in the first place -- it's about old people losing their sense of fun but refusing to move out of the noisy fun districts.

The self-contradiction in Ms Hanley's letter is equally glaring -- she is saying the area was "once-vibrant" but complains it is now too busy. A quick reading of Kings Cross history shows that Ms Hanley's memory of a vibrant bohemian wonderland is mere rose-coloured nostalgia. It has been Sydney's party district, warts and all, for many decades.

Monday, September 07, 2009

War on Drugs 'utterly mad'

"The global trade in illicit narcotics ranks with oil and arms. Its prohibition wrecks the lives of wealthy and wretched, East and West alike. It fills jails, corrupts politicians and plagues nations. It finances wars from Afghanistan to Colombia. It is utterly mad," says The Age in an article reprinted from The Guardian.

The comment piece shows how the massive cost of the War on Drugs can be borne by the rich western countries who prosecute the War, but is tearing apart developing countries. The War is therefore deeply immoral.

This macro-level, international injustice is the flip side of the 'micro' level injustice detailed elsewhere in this blog. This is ironic given the number of prohibitionists who cast their belief in moral terms while trying to impose them on everyone else.

Another two-part series in The Atlantic Monthly shows how legitimising the medical marijuana industry in Colorado is boosting the state's tax income while laying waste to the illicit supply chain, contrary to a fairly common assertion that illicit dealing would thrive alongside legitimate, regulated supply.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How would you feel if police strip-searched your sister in public?

That's the question posed by Graham Long, Pastor of the Wayside Chapel, as he writes about one of the Chapel's female volunteers who was stopped by two male police in Kings Cross and searched on the way to work. No drugs were found, as usual, even inside her bra. But the anger and humiliation that search victims feel is real and intense.

If anyone else perpetrated this it would be a serious sexual assault. If there was any point to these police-state tactics you might accept them. But there is no point, as drug-use patterns are not affected in any helpful way.

Pastor Long's piece appears in today's City News alongside a longer piece I wrote about drug law reform, titled Global tide turning against the War on Drugs.

Help spread the word!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More doubt cast on cannabis-schizophrenia link

A new UK study of 600,000 case records has failed to find a correlation between increasing cannabis use over the decades since the '70s and rates of schizophrenia, reports ABC Online.

In that time cannabis use among under-18-year-olds rose 18-fold. Reports the ABC:
Based on the literature supporting the link, the authors argue that this should be followed by an increase in schizophrenia incidence of 29% between 1990 and 2010.
But the researchers found no increase in the rates of schizophrenia and psychosis diagnosis during that period. In fact some of the data suggested the incidence of these conditions had decreased.
While the study has its critics, it should give pause to the moral panic driving 'get tougher on drugs' policies, and a whole new marijuana myth that most of the media regurgitates uncritically.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

A doctor writing in Online Opinion neatly illustrates a statistical trick used to spin messages, usually fooling journalists into parroting figures that mislead readers. The same trick is used by prohibitionists -- and also swallowed uncritically by lazy journalists.

Dr Andrew Gunn, editor of New Doctor, writes:
The science underlying modern pharmaceuticals gets distorted by commercial considerations. Manufacturers quite naturally seek to present their products favourably, for instance, by highlighting relative risk reduction when absolute risk reduction gives a more accurate picture of a drug’s efficacy. If trials suggest a medication will reduce a patient’s risk of stroke over the next five years from, say, 4 per cent to 3 per cent then the relative risk reduction is an impressive-sounding 25 per cent (the risk reduces by one fourth) but the absolute risk reduction is a measly 1 per cent (one chance in a hundred).
Prohibitionists reverse the effect, as noted elsewhere in this blog, typically in alarmist messages about cannabis and psychosis. A 40% increase in risk sounds horrifying but if it's happening among far less than 1% of users it falls into perspective.

They should teach this statistical trick in journalism school.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

If hard drugs were legal would YOU start using them?

An interesting survey in the US asked 1,028 people the above question and, predictably, well over 99% said no. So much for the 'tsunami of drug abuse' prohibitionists claim regulated supply would bring about.

Making drugs illegal does not stop people using them. Making them legal and regulated will not cause more people to use them.

Another letter published

The Sydney Morning Herald was kind enough to publish another of my letters today. It was a short sharp rant on climate change:
I know weather is not climate, but such a dry, hot August, with bushfires burning at the same time in both hemispheres, must give the most ardent denier of climate change a twinge of doubt. Surely a prudent society would get serious about reducing its consumption of coal and oil. Just in case.

Michael Gormly Woolloomooloo