Friday, 15 September 2017

Do we need to legalise illicit substances?

Today in the Sydney Morning Herald there was another story about drug gangs laundering cash through Australia's big banks. A few weeks ago the same charge was leveled at the CBA only but now it seems there are other banks involved as well. This is a major story, involving three journalists. The second story is from 2011, and it took two journalists to write it. It's about the State Crime Commission, and it tells another tale of dysfunction: of an unaccountable organisation that operates outside any democratic control.

On the one hand in NSW we're paying expensive public servants a ton of money to fight so-called "crime" - the drug business is a classic example of a market finding ways to operate despite obstacles put in its way - and on the other hand the criminals they chase continue to find ways to conduct their business.

Demand from within the community continues unabated, as we know from stories in recent years about water treatment authorities that monitor the contents of our household waste. These measurements are part of an official program of scientific surveillance, the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, operated by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

It's ludicrous. We might scoff at the Americans and the virtual war they are prosecuting in Mexico - one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to operate in - but we are also wasting unimaginable quantities of resources in order to prop up outmoded ways of dealing with the use of "illicit" drugs. Drugs should be treated as a health issue, not as a crime.

No comments: