Drugs at music festivals: we must be smarter, not harder

The death at Harbourlife this weekend is a tragedy from any angle but it’s the parents that I think about the most. About three thousand Australian parents had a child die of drug overdose this year. It’s higher than the road toll. When I hear stories like this one I look at my kids. My gut feels it but my mind can’t even.

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The economics of drug prohibition

Ross Gittins has told us that the War on Drugs has more to do with economics than we might think. There is much more to it than his own analysis would suggest.

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Police must act responsibly and reduce risks of harm

74 people were found in possession of illicit drugs during a police operation at the Dragon Dreaming Music Festival at Wee Jasper over the weekend. 18 police and two drug detection dogs conducted the ‘high visibility’ operation over the four days of the music festival.

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Why boycott cocaine?

We’ve called for cocaine consumers to boycott cocaine due to the death and destruction in the cocaine supply chain. Is this boycott going to change the behaviours of cocaine cartels? Unlikely.

And do consumers bear the full weight of responsibility for that supply chain? No they do not. The prohibition of drugs creates a black market just as the prohibition of alcohol did in the USA in the 1920’s. Prohibition hands lucrative markets over to criminals gangs who protect it all through violence and corruption.

Replace prohibition with legal regulation and the power of the cartels will erode. Violence will no longer be business as usual. A legitimate trade in drugs perpetrated by law abiding citizens must be better that what is happening now.

If legal regulation is the answer, why boycott cocaine?

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Boycott Cocaine

It’s time to boycott cocaine.

No, NOT because it’s illegal

No, NOT because it’s addictive or dangerous

No, NOT because it’s harmful to those who use it.

But because the prohibition of cocaine means that its supply and distribution is carried out by criminal gangs that have caused death and destruction – particularly in Mexico, Colombia and other parts of Central and South America. 

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Real problem, random response

Driving while impaired is clearly irresponsible and unfair to other road users. That’s why we have random breath testing for alcohol. The legal blood alcohol limits are based on empirical research about how alcohol affects driving ability.

Over the last few years, Australian states have begun testing motorists for illicit drugs as well. Driving while impaired by illicit drugs is no less irresponsible than driving under the influence of alcohol.

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Defqon1 another failure for police

On Saturday September 20 the Sydney International Regatta Centre in Penrith hosted Defqon1 2014. Over 200 police officers from Penrith Local Area Command, the North West Metropolitan Region and the Dog Squad were present at the event.

Three drug detection dogs were reportedly screening attendees at the entrance. During the event police reported conducting 372 person searches with 83 drug detections – a false positive rate of over 75%. This is unusually high given that over the life of the program in NSW the false positive rate for all types of locations has been 65%.

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Dogs at Defqon1, Phase 2: Dear Minister...

"In recognition of a shared commitment to harm reduction, we have asked Detective Inspector Healey to share any evidence that general drug detection operations using dogs have reduced the risk of harm to patrons of similar events in the past. At the time of writing he has not provided that evidence.

Given that prevention of health harms is a core business of the Ministry and the Department of Health, we feel it is necessary to take those concerns to you as NSW Minister of Health."

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No really, call off the dogs

Last Friday we wrote to Detective Inspector Healey, acting chief of the Penrith Local Area Command. He’s the man responsible for overseeing the police operation at Defqon1, a hardstyle dance music festival in Penrith on September 20.

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Call off the dogs at Defqon1

Last year 23 year old James Munro overdosed and died at Defqon1 in Sydney. In his father's account, he took three pills after he saw there was a drug dog operation at the entrance. That was a preventable death and should not happen again.

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