So You Want a Real War on Drugs?

It's been said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So it was with a heavy heart that, in light of the recent debate about the failed war on drugs, we braced ourselves for the re-hashed opinion of Angela and Tony Wood, parents of Anna, who died after taking an ecstasy tablet in 1995. Mr and Mrs Wood appear in the media every time drugs are debated, gamely determined to prove they are out for revenge and have learned absolutely nothing.

This time it's an article by Adele Horin, whose writing I normally admire but who has sadly been sucked in by the Woods' peddling of their zero-tolerance message. The Woods want a "real" war on drugs. Ignoring any evidence that the war has failed, ignoring that the actual drug laws in place at the time of her death were certainly not in favour of harm minimisation - even ignoring that harm minimisation policies may have saved Anna's life by alerting her friends to the need for medical attention when Anna first became ill - they seek to somehow get revenge on drugs and their distributors by advocating harsh penalties for drug use and possession. Of course, a real zero tolerance policy for drug use and possession would mean that their own daughter, if she had been caught that night with the ecstasy tablet before she had taken it, could have faced a maximum prison term of two years (unlikely for a first offence, but a zero tolerance policy would surely advocate for harsh sentences as a deterrent). Would they have wanted her to go to jail? Hell no (they said so themselves in the execrable book written about her death). The penalties are for other people's kids, not pretty white girls from the Upper North Shore.

 If they were just soothing their grief with their delusions, then I wouldn't care so much. The problem lies in the influence the Woods and others like them have on the formation of drug policy. In the years since Anna's death, we've seen the introduction of sniffer dogs - expensive, ineffective in dealing with the larger issue as targeting mostly young people in possession of small amounts of drugs, and dangerous; young people have died after seeing sniffer dogs, panicking, and consuming all their drugs immediately to avoid detection. Demonising drugs and drug use have exacerbated the very conditions that killed Anna Wood - young people are not turned off taking drugs; if anything their illicit nature increases the allure. But when things go wrong, they are too afraid to get help.

That's the problem I have with Angela and Tony Wood. Their policies are dangerous, even deadly. How many other young people must die or have their lives shattered before they consider their daughter's death avenged? And of course, they and their ilk contribute to the disasterous global war on drugs. Angela and Tony Wood say that in Australia we just have a skirmish on drugs. They want a real war on drugs. So let me be the first to suggest they move to Mexico. Maybe if they see the war on drugs there, they might finally learn something.


  1. i don't get why anyone would listen to the Woods. how can anything they say be trusted as anything other than extreme reactionary propoganda? they're just not capable of being level headed enough to be helpful on the issues involved.

  2. Not to mention, it was not the MDMA that killed her but rather the consumption of several litres of water over a 90 minute timespan leading to cerebral oedema and death. Something that most likely could have been avoided with proper education and harm minimisation strategies.

    Prohibition simply does not work. Society didn't learn the first time, I don't know what it's going to take for the message to sink in now.

  3. Well since Anna died, water is restricted more at clubs, so there's something positive.

    Whether it's drugs or uteri, it's all about control and distracting people from the Rhineharts out there.

    The Romans got bread and circuses, we get sniffer dogs as a show to pretend civilization's working smoothly.


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