Campaign events happening all around the world to raise awareness and promote change.
Punitive policies still common around the world (ref opposition to change by nations supporting death penalty at recent UNGASS), but lots of examples of change:
International shifts on cannabis Canada looking to expand MSICs (beyond Vancouver) Ireland & Switzerland both committed to opening MSICs Vietnam recognising need to focus more on treatment and less on prison camps
We’re comparatively fortunate in Aus to have had our Harm Minimisation policy framework in place for over 25 years, but we still have challenges too:
Neither Vic Labor/Coalition will publicly consider MSIC Drug law reform at Federal level still some way off
Opportunities to create our own campaign messages at the end
Borrowing from Ginny’s work
Each area very broad in terms of potential measures
Limitations: High degree of variability – penalties applied depend on local practice Access to reduced penalty determined by location/individual officer
Portugal (2001) the most famous example – focus on assessment of need and access to treatment. After 15 years, now has lowest rate of drug consumption in Europe; overdose rate 6x lower than EU average and significant drop in HIV transmission. Recent international moves to decriminalise cannabis
Legalisation has the potential to have the highest benefit of the three reform options, but there is (currently) little research on its application in practice. Only recent examples with cannabis, none with other drugs.
It’s also the least politically popular option.
Few would argue for unregulated markets. Our experience with alcohol and tobacco highlight the need for strong regulation
Common argument that removing penalties ‘sends the wrong message’ – recent data from Colorado shows state last lowest use of cannabis by young people in US.
Regulation is tricky to implement (US & Uruguay examples), complicated by business practice when drug becomes ‘just another product’ – ‘Greenrush’
Decrim was the consistent argument made at the Canberra summit (led by Richard Di Natale, but co-hosted by Labor’s Melissa Parke & Liberals’ Sharman Stone)
Recognition that drug law reform is still some years away, but that there is a gradual shift in political support.
Clear need for ongoing advocacy to help shift public and political opinion.
Uniting NSW/ACT support for decrim of personal use/possession & increased priority for treatment/harm reduction funding.
UnitingCare Australia has approved similar position but is yet to release it.
We’ve been given permission by the former National Director to say whatever we want in our own position statement.
2016 Support. Don't Punish presentation
Support. Don’t Punish
Discussing ReGen’s position on drug law reform
• International drug policy reform
• Increased focus on health and HR
• PWUD should not be criminalised
• Remove harsh punishments for
people at low end of drug trade
• End to use of death penalty
Three broad options for reform:
• Regulation (Legalisation)
• Possession & use remain
• Individual still punished, but police
have discretion with penalty e.g.
• Shift in punishment from criminal to
• Increased accessibility of treatment
& support services
• Police can focus on production &
supply, rather than use/possession
• Enables expansion of HR measures
e.g. drug checking
• Enables free or regulated markets
• Can be drug-specific e.g. cannabis
• Govt tax revenue (treatment funding)
• Capacity for quality control &
• Major impact on illicit markets
Recent local developments:
• Canberra Drug Policy Summit
• Uniting NSW/ACT position
• UnitingCare Australia position