CQ drug use to skyrocket if illicit drugs decriminalised
Drug use across Central Queensland and the state is predicted to skyrocket if the Queensland Government’s Mental Health Commission inquiry results in decriminalisation.
This is the warning of Drug Free Australia DFA, which says decriminalising the use of ice, ecstasy, speed, cocaine and heroin will result in a massive surge in drug abuse.
A recent report by the Queensland Productivity Commission QPC revealed “all available evidence” showed the “war on drugs” had failed to restrict usage or supply.
The use of cannabis was decriminalised in the Australian Capital Territory ACT on July 1, 2020.
ACT Drug Association chief executive Devin Bowles said the focus of police resources on serious criminal activity would free up huge amounts of police time used on “minor” drug offences.
“The evidence is clear that issues associated with personal drug use are best addressed through the health system, not the justice system,” he said.
Figures released on Thursday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS showed the number of offenders prosecuted by police in 2019-2020 was the lowest in the past 12 years.
ABS Director of Crime and Justice Statistics, William Milne, said there were 374,645 offenders in Australia in 2019-20, a decrease of 5 per cent from the previous year.
The QPC report found drug addicts lives would be improved by decriminalisation without increasing the rate of drug use.
If the reforms were implemented immediately, the QPC report found “the prison population would be between 20 to 30 per cent lower in 2025”.
“This would save between $165 million and $270 million in annual prison costs and avoid $2.1 billion in prison investments,” the report stated.
The QPC found Queensland spends $500 million a year on drug enforcement, while imprisonment for drug offences was at an all-time high, with Indigenous people 10 times more likely to be jailed for drug offences.
The Queensland Mental Health Commission QMHC is investigating Portugal’s decriminalisation model which has been a success in the European nation for 17 years.
DFA’s submission to the QMHC challenges the “Portugal model” which resulted in more treatment availability in maintenance programs and rehabilitation.
DFA’s Research Director Gary Christian warned decriminalisation, and the sharply increased drug use it always encourages, flies in the face of the almost unanimous Australian disapproval of these drugs and their use.
“The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of 25,000 Australians shows that 99 per-cent do not approve the use of heroin, ice or speed, 97 per-cent do not approve the use of cocaine, 96 pre cent the use of ecstasy and 80 per-cent the use of cannabis,” Mr Christian said.
“This high disapproval of drug use by Australians comes from experience – 43 per cent of Australians having used illicit drugs in their past.”