Say No To Devine On Drugs

19 June 2008

Miranda Devine opens her latest column, on the evils of harm minimisation, with the story of Angela and Tony Wood, celebrating their daughter Anna's 28th birthday, thirteen years after she died from taking ecstasy - the human face of the anti-drugs movement. Devine claims that "Anna Wood [has been] co-opted without [her parents] permission as a poster girl of the drug harm-minimisation lobby". Not true, but she has sure been used as the face of zero tolerance, moral panic and hysteria. 

Who else could it be, really? Everytime there's drug-related story in the media, one or both of the Woods pop up, resident "experts" - and as the Jack Marx points out in this excellent column, they really are experts in nothing more than losing a child. According to reports, they've never gotten over their daughter's death, and no wonder. In the years since, they've endlessly parrotted the zero tolerance line, never stopping to slow down and think about what they're doing - or how they're being used.

The point has already been made that harm minimisation could well have saved Anna Wood's life, if her friends had felt able to get help for her earlier. But the Woods have done more damage than just peddling their draconian zero-tolerance philosophy; the drug education programs they champion actually introduce young people to the idea of taking drugs in the first place. Many children who have little knowledge of drugs become intrigued about ecstasy after hearing "Anna's Story". They're not worried that she died, any more than losing friends in car crashes makes them wary of driving - when you're fifteen you don't think that way, which was much the point of the excerable book written about Anna Wood in the wake of her death. It's wrong for the Woods to recklessly use the young people of NSW in an attempt to deal with their grief.

There's also the worrying fact that kids like to rebel. Making drugs seem as evil as possible is only going to increase their appeal to a certain number of them - the ones who were more likely to end up in trouble anyway; the sad, the angry, the troubled. Aren't these children as worthy of saving as the bright young shiny things? But they are overlooked in the rush to conform and condemn of the current policy.

The zero-tolerance brigade bludgeon through the truth with righteousness on their side. Thanks to their influence, earlier in the week they managed to have scrapped a drug information booklet for high school students which advised against taking drugs and advised about the risks of mental illness that can result from drug use...but it did give tips on how to use drugs safely if students decided to. The outcry was loud (or large, if you mean the typeface used in the Daily Terrorgraph) - the pamphlet was teaching kids to use drugs! Well, if it's so easy to get kids interested in things using pamphlets, why don't they hand out pamphlets on skilled trades and having large families (once married!)?


  1. IT'S TIME TO REMOVE ALL THE POLITICIANS THAT PROMOTE PROHIBITION. Where are all the sick pot smokers? Where are all the people with tiny little brains that have shrunk from smoking pot? Where is the gateway that no more pot smokers travel through than any other group of the general population? PROHIBITION never works it just CAUSES CRIME & VIOLENCE. The USA spends $69 billion a year on the drug war, builds 900 new prison beds and hires 150 more correction officers every two weeks, arrests someone on a drug charge every 17 seconds, jails more people than any nation and has killed over 100,000 citizens in the drug war. In 1914 when there were NO PROHIBITED DRUGS 1.3% of our population was addicted to drugs, TODAY 1.3% of our population is STILL ADDICTED TO DRUGS BUT THERE’S WAY MORE DRUG RELATED CRIME AND VIOLENCE BECAUSE OF THE HUGE PROFITS PROHIBITION GENERATES. DRUGS TODAY ARE MORE POTENT, MORE READILY AVAILABLE AND LESS EXPENSIVE THAN THEY WERE IN THE EARLY 70’S WHEN RICHARD NIXON STARTED THE WAR ON DRUGS. The only way to control drugs is to REGULATE THEM AND END THE PROFITS AVAILABLE TO CRIMINALS just like ending alcohol prohibition did. There’s only been one drug success story in history, tobacco, BY FAR THE MOST DEADLY and one of the MOST ADDICTIVE drugs. Almost half the users quit because of REGULATION, ACCURATE INFORMATION AND MEDICAL TREATMENT. No one went to jail and no one got killed. But what about the kids?... PROHIBITED DRUGS ARE WAY EASIER FOR KIDS TO GET THAN REGULATED DRUGS! The drug war is a failure, the epitome of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Everyone should DEMAND their Constitutional rights ARE honored. The right; to freedom of religion, free speech, a free press, to keep and bear arms, to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, to life, liberty and property, to be protected from having your property taken by the government without due process of law and without just compensation, to confront the witnesses against you, to be protected from excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, to vote and many others have been denied to millions of Americans in the name of the drug war.
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  2. The War on Drugs hasn't worked. That's a fact. But almost every government in the Western world thinks the solution to this is to ramp up their efforts. All that means is that it works less, if that makes sense.


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