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Labor and Liberals Putting Politics Before Health on Drug Policy

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Tags: Health, Drug Policy

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson

Labor and the Liberals are ignoring the experts, and the evidence the ‘war on drugs’ has failed in Tasmania.  For them to cling to political infighting instead of tackling this critical community health issue in a comprehensive, mature way is irresponsible and weak.

Tasmania, like the rest of the world, is seeing more drugs being imported, manufactured, supplied and used than ever before. The current enforcement approach is creating social misery and harm for individuals and their families. It’s doing nothing to reduce illicit drug availability and demand.

Personal drug users should be directed into health care, rather than the courts. The focus of law enforcement should be on criminals trafficking or manufacturing drugs, not on users.

Last year, 80 per cent of Tasmania’s 1100 arrests for drug-related offences were for personal drug use. That’s nearly 900 Tasmanians who have been needlessly criminalised.

Successive governments have failed to put money into educating people about the harms of illicit drug use or recovery from addiction, and have criminalised thousands of Tasmanians for their personal drug use.

Criminalising people for personal use of illicit drugs is costing the community, feeding a black market economy, and driving up violence and property crime.

Neither Labor nor the Liberals have responded appropriately to the Community Legal Centres’ report into drug treatment and law reform, or to comments of former Chief Magistrate, Michael Hill.  This is a serious health issue for the Tasmanian community, and we have to get above politicking.

To tackle the drug problem and reduce community harm, drug policy must be reoriented as a health issue.  We need investment in prevention, early intervention, education and treatment, and decriminalisation of personal drug use.

The lives and health of Tasmanians shouldn’t be kicked around as a political football. In doing so, Labor and the Liberals are putting them at risk.