Drug Free Australia’s Drug Advisory Council kicks an own goal in calling for “higher penalties for possession and use of cannabis” (letters, Canberra Times, 13 June 2017). Sure, we want to make cannabis less accessible to young Australians but you won’t do that by ramping up the very measures that have ensured the profitability and availability of that drug.
The assertion that cannabis is a gateway to harder ones has long been discredited. The link is sociological, not pharmacological. Yes, many if not most users of amphetamines or heroin started with cannabis but to assert that cannabis caused the uptake of hard drugs is as meaningless as saying that water or soft drinks are gateways. Kids inclined to risk-taking or to cope with their inadequacies try dope for social reasons. Their entrepreneurial peers, being defiant or being cool, flog it to them. Through that same network the novice will be introduced to a smorgasbord of other drugs.
Criminalising dope is a price maintenance system that guarantees profitability. The experience of law enforcement is that a market based around the direct selling between peers is all but impossible to disrupt. More hard-hitting messages will only serve to produce a new generation of cult reefer madness videos.
– Bill Bush, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, CLA member, Canberra