Pubdate: Oct 19, 1998
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 1998 David Syme & Co Ltd
Author: Dr. Andrew Rothfield


The Premier of New South Wales, Mr Bob Carr, is misleading us badly when he
suggests that the ill effects of the consumption of 400 kilograms of heroin
have somehow been prevented by the interception of a shipment of that size
(The Age, 15/10).

Reducing the supply of heroin merely increases its price, and does nothing
to alter the demand for it.

There is no evidence that cases of hepatitis C will be prevented by this
interception. The incidence of hepatitis C may actually increase because
addicts maybe more likely to share their (more costly) doses.

The losers from this interception will be all Australians, who have to bear
the increasing costs of crime associated with illicit drug usage as well as
the costs of the substantial police effort.

The winners will be the principals of the other heroin manufacturing and
importation syndicates who will receive a higher return for their product,
some senior police who will receive commendations for their work, and
politicians such as Mr Carr, who make misleading statements for their own
political purposes.

If heroin that was safe, inexpensive and locally manufactured, was available
through pharmacists to registered addicts, then we would truly minimise the
serious and substantial harm that is presently done both to the addicts and
to our economy by our current misguided drug policies. Instead, we have to
put up with people like Mr Carr and the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, who will
do nothing to address the problem effectively.


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Checked-by: Rolf Ernst