Should drugs be legal in Australia?

A question that has been around for decades with obvious advantages and disadvantages on each side. Making drugs legal would hurt the black market, would likely result in higher purity of the substances being consumed, would lower crime rates and would even assist the economy by increasing tax revenue. Even the most hardcore folks against drugs must concede how smoking and consuming alcohol are not exactly the most nutritious or beneficial products for the human body, yet these are legal. Samuel William Davidson who has been charged recently regarding the death of four children in Sydney, driving his vehicle whilst three times over the legal blood alcohol limit highlights all too well the dangers of alcohol. The significant fall in drug related deaths in Portugal after that country changed the consequences for all drugs for personal possession, encourages us to question changing our stance on drugs.

Instead of subjecting drug users to criminal sanctions, drug users are subjected to civil penalties (such as fines, or community service). A criminal record for drug-use is hardly likely to assist a person in getting off drugs but may rather understandably encourage increased consumption to avoid the reality that their prospect of obtaining employment has been made more difficult. Remember our goal should be prompting community engagement for the benefit of all, not promoting exclusion. Furthermore, a decreased capacity to obtain lawful employment by necessity increases the potential for committing crime to earn money. The result? The number of opioid deaths in Portugal have been reduced by two-thirds of what they were, whereas the UK approach in criminalising drug-use has increased deaths by 30% over the same period of time.

Music for addicts
It is impossible to deny that enabling supply, cheaper drugs and the removal of criminal sanctions enables addicts. Legal consequences such as imprisonment and diminished capacity for future employment in certain fields provides an undeniable deterrent, the question only lies in how effective this deterrent is.

The Australian Judiciary
It must be stated, however, that even Supreme Court judges in our own country, such as former Judge Richard Refshauge says the decriminalisation of illicit drugs results in more harm than good and supports the abolishment of criminal offences relating to personal drug possession. Mr Refshauge stated: “One of the things that you want with people having difficulties in their lives is you want to give them a job, to get them out in the community, to get them interacting with people who will actually be able to lead them to healthy, successful, useful lives… So what do we do? We put them away, we get them out of society, we lock them up with people who have done very bad things.” Even the Directors of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Australia produced a paper calling for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use more than twenty years ago. The DPP is the body responsible for prosecuting criminals on behalf of the state.

If you or someone you know has been with a criminal offence, please contact Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation.


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