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Author Topic: [AUS] [1981] Some Thoughts on the D r u g P r o b l e m [by Lindsay Tanner]  (Read 1621 times)

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source: http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AUCrimPCF/1981/11.pdf

S o m e  T h o u g h t s  o n  t h e  D r u g  P r o b l e m

By Lindsay Tanner, BA (Hons) (Melb), Starting final year LLB (Melb.)

Former editor, Farrago and various other journals and co-author, with Peter Russ, of The Politics of Pollution (Visa Books, Melb. 1978).

EDIT: from the 1981 archives, here are the first few paragraphs:

Introduction

Those in our society who glean their information on current topics from the mass media will not need to be reminded that Australia is currently in the throes of a severe “drug problem”.

In the last few years, and in particular since the dramatic disappearance of Liberal Party activist Don Mackay, politicians, police and proprietors have all been falling over each other to demand harsher measures against the “drug menace”. A spate of Royal Commissions, increased penalties, and police blitzes has accompanied this torrent of declamation. Yet it appears that the only major effect of such heightened activity has been to fuel popular hysteria to the point where objective debate on the drug use/abuse question has almost disappeared.

Though it may seem a silly question to those who base their outlook on received wisdom in this and other areas, it is worthwhile to ask just exactly what this “ drug problem” is. The mere fact that public conception of the “problem” , if indeed there is one, can vary from a simplistic belief in the existence of thousands of marijuana addicts to a sophisticated awareness of the extent of the “hidden” abuse of drugs such as analgesics is indicative of the fact that that problem is a concept and not necessarily an actuality.

It is important that this concept be examined in a slightly more rational fashion than that adopted by the Sunday newspaper editorialist: the issues involved are. quite substantial, and in many respects particularly complicated.

Is there a drug problem ?

Behind the multitude of public demands for action on the “drug problem” there lies a group of common assumptions or beliefs. The most obvious, of course, is the assumption that there is a drug problem. Although we are told every day of the week that there is a drug problem, there is not a great deal of solid evidence tending to establish that fact, if one excepts legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, which fairly clearly constitute “problems” in themselves.

To begin with, it is quite impossible to estimate accurately the total quantity of any illicit drug being consumed in Australia in any given year, and the total number of people over which that consumption is spread. An informed guess can be made with respect to certain drugs, but the presence of complicating factors such as vast variations in individual tolerances and rates of use, the genuinely medicinal use of such drugs, and the practice of "cutting” certain drugs with other substances makes any claim to accurate knowledge of consumption/usage rates rather dubious.

Empirical evidence can be used as a source for very general observations such as that Australia has a substantial number of heroin addicts, or a very large number of occasional cannabis users. However, quantifications of such conclusions are just not credible, even aside from the fact that they disguise enormous internal variations with respect to usage rates and effects.

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« Last Edit: November 19, 2019, 10:54:42 AM by Chip »
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I do not condone or support any illegal activities. All information is for theoretical discussion and wonder.
All activities discussed are considered fictional and hypothetical. Information of all discussion has been derived from online research and in the spirit of personal Freedom.

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