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Howard's war on drugs a complete failure as users swap heroin for speed.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Spokesperson for Attorney General & Justice 3 February 2004 MEDIA RELEASE 04/041

Howard’s War on Drugs a Complete Failure as Users swap Heroin for Speed

The Howard Government’s ‘war on drugs’ is a complete failure, with research showing an explosion in amphetamine use across the country.

Australian Democrats’ spokesperson for Attorney-General and Justice, Senator Brian Greig, says the Prime Minister is glossing over the real situation and his refusal to work towards a sensible harm minimisation drugs policy has backfired.

“While the Government continues to claim that the current fall in heroin availability is due to its policy of targeting drug dealers, an examination of drug arrest figures shows this argument is nonsense,” Senator Greig said.

“During this Government’s term, heroin arrests have fallen by 68 per cent, but this is almost certainly the result of the heroin drought. Even the Australian Federal Police believe this decrease is more likely due to Asian drug syndicates deciding amphetamines are better business,” Senator Greig said.

“While arrests for heroin possession have fallen by 68 per cent, coincidentally over the same period, arrests for amphetamines have increased by exactly the same amount - 68 per cent.

“Evidence indicates that the heroin drought and an apparent shift in drug production from heroin to amphetamines, has simply shifted drug users from one source to another,” Senator Greig said.

Senator Greig says three to four times more heroin users than dealers are being arrested, with similar figures for amphetamines. Marijuana users are as likely as ever to be arrested, but arrests of dealers has fallen by almost half.

“Given the disastrous mental health outcomes associated with amphetamine use including mood swings, paranoia and in extreme cases, psychosis, the need for harm minimisation approaches and better policy outcomes is more important than ever,” Senator Greig said.

In the Government’s recent report on the Inquiry into Substance Abuse in Australian Communities, a 53 page chapter on ‘drug prevention and treatment’ dedicates only two pages to discussion on amphetamine use.

“A recent study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has found Australia has the highest levels of ecstasy use in the world and ranks only second after Thailand for methamphetamine use. This is a damning indictment on John Howard’s “get tough on drugs” approach,” Senator Greig said

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