Australia has long been known for its tough-on-drugs policies, with many believing the so-called “war on drugs” to be a necessary approach in tackling illicit drug use.
The “war on drugs” has become a popular catchphrase that gained popularity in the United States. The “war on drugs” refers to the government-led effort to combat drug use and drug-related crime through various means such as increased law enforcement and tougher penalties with doubtful results.
The focus on law enforcement and punishment has contributed to a number of negative outcomes including increased rates of drug-related deaths and persistent racial and economic disparities in drug-related outcomes.
Instead, it is necessary to implement alternative strategies such as harm reduction and a more compassionate and evidence-based approach.
Moving on from the war on drugs
Earlier in the year, the Palaszczuk Government and Queensland Police announced the implementation of a three-strike rule for people carrying small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine or ice for personal use.
This expands the police drug diversion program to those found in possession of personal quantities of all illicit drugs and unlawful pharmaceuticals.
What is the three-strike rule:
- First offenders: Those who have never been charged with a drug offence and are not facing any other criminal charges will get a warning
- Second offenders: Police will offer the diversion program by police on the spot, rather than a magistrate at a later date in court.
- Third offenders: Police will charge you
According to Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan, this approach “relieves the pressure on the criminal justice system.”
In conclusion, this shift in policy reflects a growing understanding that criminalising drug use may not be the most effective way to reduce drug-related harm. By diverting low-level drug offenders away from the criminal justice system, resources can go towards more pressing issues, such as tackling drug trafficking and supporting those who are struggling with addiction.