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The Drug Equality Alliance responds to the HASC Drugs Inquiry Report “Drugs: Breaking the Cycle”

The Drug Equality Alliance has made multiple submissions to this inquiry from the outset; we have sought to demand a re-think about the errors of law within the terms of reference to the inquiry, but we have been almost entirely ignored (except footnote 27). The report thus fails to take note of these essential pervasive criticisms that subsumed the whole inquiry with various meaningless concepts. The failure of the HASC and key witnesses to address the proper issues, preferring to partake in the charade of debating the straw man argument about the merits of de-criminalisation / legalisation of drugs led directly to the derisory government response:

“Drugs are illegal because they are harmful….”

drug equality home affairs select committee hasc The HASC Inquiry has been a complete failure as regards making any examination of the administration of the Misuse of Drugs Act by government and the advisory council (ACMD). The view was predictably that the Act itself had passed its expiry date and needed replacing. Without any critical analysis of the current law (as opposed to policy), this wishful ‘progressivism’ completely normalised the outrages of the current regime as being consistent with what parliament enacted and the Human Rights Act as well. The negative outcomes we experience from the current policy result as a direct consequence of the mismanagement of the legislation, and this due to the very same errors of understanding that dogged the latest inquiry. The key issues pertaining to the legitimacy of current policy were simply ignored:

1. Does the law as enacted by parliament exclude classes of persons misusing the drugs alcohol and tobacco from its purview? If not, why are the vast majority of persons misusing such drugs not even a legitimate subject for the ACMD to consider?

2. Does the law forbid the use of drugs and limit the legitimate uses of ‘controlled drugs’ expressly for scientific and medical purposes? Given that the Act has regulatory apparatus to be able to make reasonable differentiations between persons using drugs who cause social harms from those that do not, why are these regulations (allowing different regulations for different persons with respect to different drugs in different situations) never used except for very limited specific research and the anomaly of GW Pharmaceuticals who are allowed to grow tons of so-called ‘skunk’ cannabis for profit?

Doubtless the whole thing was a fait accompli in the minds of some of the HASC members; after all, their direction is to re-direct certain types of current offenders into a therapeutic intervention model. This is perhaps the most insidious of schemes, selling the idea that drug users are victims who need help. Whilst of course, many people are victims of drug misuse, the whole notion of creating a myriad of new interventions as alternatives to the criminal justice system (or more likely working in concert with it) represents a terrible increase in state powers for interfering in the lives of peaceful moderate drug users of ‘controlled drugs’. Casting drug use as an evil that needs to be addressed is never going to solve the problem of drug misuse, for it conflates use with misuse and this ubiquitous apologetic approach is at the root of the whole problem. Firstly, what counts as ‘drugs’ apparently, according to the government doesn’t include the most widely misused of harmful of drugs, alcohol and tobacco – nobody can take a system that perpetuates this divide seriously. Yet that’s exactly what the HASC did by insisting that drugs are either legal or illegal – that was a complete fabrication. The law is properly concerned with controlling outcomes via regulation of the person. There are no such things as ‘legal drugs’ and the lie is used to grant privileged drug dealing status to alcohol and tobacco companies, whereas in law, no such classes of persons or organisations are exempted from the Act at all.

People realise that there are benefits to be had from various ‘controlled drugs’, and the notion that they should just say ‘no’ is never going to speak to the users. By getting this wrong, the real information about genuinely harmful drug misuse is undermined. This is a direct consequence of the ‘illegal drug’ misnomer – the lie that creates an indivisibly outlawed class of persons irrespective of the drug related outcomes. The constant de-humanising rhetoric includes expressions such as the ‘war on drugs’ and ‘illicit drugs’ – the empathic connection with human beings was lost. Not only are drugs a very personal experience and the connection between man and substance very intimate, but to actually administer the law in reverse obscures our most basic of rights. This is the core of the failure of the HASC – they refused to acknowledge that the government actually have interpreted the law incorrectly, by imagining that ‘controlled drugs’ are actually drugs which are being controlled. It’s turned the law on its head and then they contrived policy, being a prohibitionist policy for all the users of only some dangerous drugs, to appear consistent with the actual Act of parliament.

Yet prohibitionist drug policies offend via the presumption of harms done to the person engaging in ‘altered states of consciousness’ using ‘controlled drugs’. This naïve and crude association is as offensive to peaceful ways of being as homophobia or religious hatred; it is simply contempt for difference and a blanket denial of adult choice. It is about experiencing existence as fully as one can via the modifications to consciousness that is possible through the whole array of plants and substances we have. First and foremost it’s about you, your dominion over yourself, it’s really not about any substance – why do we agree to having other people determine what is possible for us and rely on information by proxy over experience?

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