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Analysis and Comment (27)

The home-baked illicit drug krokodil first emerged in provincial Russia during the early 2000s. Dorin Popa/Flickr

The rise and fall of Russia’s ‘flesh-eating drug’ krokodil

Reports of a “flesh-eating zombie drug” called krokodil, accompanied by lurid images first appeared in English during 2010. The drug serves as an excellent illustration of the havoc bad drug policies can…
Most of the world continues with a criminal justice approach to drug use despite ample evidence of its harmfulness. Jason Verwey/Flickr

What works best in the war on drugs

In 1967, the Beatles took out a full-page advertisement in The Times describing Britain’s marijuana laws as “immoral in principle and unworkable in practice”. Almost half a century later, both past and…
The use of crystal meth among Australians continues to increase and remains at a high level, according to a new report. AAP/NSW Police

Ice age: the rise of crystal meth in Australia

The 2012-13 Australian Crime Commission (ACC) Illicit Drug Data Report, released earlier this week, provides mounting evidence that crystal meth is becoming a large-scale problem for law enforcement and…
Mexicans are taking matters into their own hands. Esther Vargas

Vigilantes patrol as Mexico concludes its energy reform

In 2013, Mexico signed into law an important and controversial set of structural reforms, one of which opens the way for foreign companies to profit from Mexico’s oil holdings. An article in The Economist…
Younger Chinese revellers are seeking new highs. Ding Zhou

China’s drug takers are chasing newer highs

The close of 2013 saw a drugs bust of cinematic proportions in China. Part of Operation Thunder, more than 3,000 armed police with a cavalry of helicopters, motorboats and police dogs busted the village…
Drug lord Pablo Escobar was regarded as one of the most powerful entities within Latin America, but his legacy remains the subject of debate. Thierry Ehrmann

Pablo Escobar and the legacy of drug warfare in Latin America

Even today, some 20 years after his death, there is still debate in Colombia on how to interpret the mythology surrounding feared drug lord Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel. Escobar was regarded as…
In contrast to War on Drugs rhetoric, many young people report that illicit drug use is manageable, pleasurable and creates social opportunities. Poldavo

What do young people gain from drug use?

The idea that illicit drugs could hold value in the lives of young people is bewildering to most people, who tend to assume that illicit drug use is necessarily destructive. This becomes even more distressing…
Peru is now the world’s leading producer of coca leaves, used in cocaine. Should this mark a new shift in the War on Drugs? Julyinireland

Supply and demand: the changing nature of the War on Drugs

The United Nations has recently announced that Peru has taken over Colombia as the largest producer of illegal coca leaves, the base for the drug cocaine. This comes as Brazil becomes the second biggest…
War on Drugs proponents have argued the closure of Silk Road is going to make the public safer from the harms caused by illicit drugs, but does the evidence back up this view? AAP/AFP

Misguided optimism: the Silk Road closure and the War on Drugs

The recent closure of illicit drugs website Silk Road by the FBI has been hailed as a decisive blow in the fight against organised crime and another victory in the global War on Drugs. Although a minor…
Busted: only about 15% of drugs cross the border on mules. The rest is in big shipments. PA Wire

Five myths about drug mules and the death penalty

Drug mules have barely been out of the UK news this August. First the “Peru two”, Melissa Reid from Scotland and Michaela Connolly from Ireland, were arrested attempting to leave Lima with just under 12kgs…
It will soon be legal to grow, sell and smoke cannabis in Uruguay. Cuau Guerra

What Uruguay’s legal weed means for the war on drugs

Uruguay is set to become the first country to legalise marijuana use, cultivation and possession following a century of often authoritarian prohibition laws across the globe. In a landmark vote on President…
We might pay more for cocaine in Australia but the social and economic costs of its use reach beyond our shores. Corbis

The true cost of cocaine

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Australians are now the world’s eighth highest per capita users of cocaine. Cocaine use within the wealthier echelons of society is so unremarkable…
It’s difficult to explain why up to three million Australians are better off purchasing cannabis from criminals rather than regulated sources. Chuck Grimmett

Drug prohibition: moving to Plan B

Australia21, of which I am one of the directors, released its second report on drug prohibition on this morning. The report calls for a redefinition of how we deal with drugs to primarily a health and…
The different, contradictory and inconsistent policies on drug use control represent uneasy compromises driven by conflicting ideologies. West Midlands Police/Flickr

The war on drugs: which war … and what drugs?

The mantra “war against drugs” sounds great from a distance, but on closer inspection, it’s a misleading, sweeping generalisation. There are, in fact, many different, contradictory and inconsistent policies…
Drugs smuggled into a South Australian prison. If jails can’t be kept drug free, what hope is there for wider society? AAP/Thuy On

Australia’s love affair with drugs

Australians have always loved their drugs – more so than any other nation in which those same drugs are proscribed and used under threat of native, criminal penalties. Drug taking is a national trait…
Brazilian police patrol a favela in Rio De Janiero. EPA/Marcelo Sayao

A moral argument against the war on drugs

Former Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has argued that the war on drugs has failed and cannabis should be decriminalised. He argued that the hardline approach has brought “disastrous” consequences…
The internet has increased opportunities to buy illicit drugs and accelerated drug trends. Presna

The internet poses unique challenges for drug prohibition

The Australia21 report argues the “war on drugs” has failed and we should consider other options for controlling drugs, such as decriminalisation or regulation. In addition to these arguments, an important…
Shamed senior police officer Mark Standen is lead away from King St Supreme Court after being found guilty of attempting to import a massive haul of pseudoephedrine. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Good cop, bad cop: how corrupt police work with drug dealers

The Australia21 report on illicit drugs draws much-needed attention to many serious issues, including the major role played by corrupt police in drug distribution networks. The role played by drugs in…
Drug hauls are not a sign of successful drug policy. AAP/Lee Besford

Back to the future – the war on drugs we never had to have

It’s 1974 again. I am 25 and a member of Lionel Murphy’s national Drug Advisory Council. Occasionally I am a drug educator with my mate, psychologist Simon Haselton, for the NSW Health department. As a…
It’s worth taking another look at Bob Carr’s record on decriminalising drugs. AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Rap sheet: does Bob Carr’s record on drug reform stand up?

The Australia21 thinktank has today released a report describing the war on drugs as a failure. Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr, part of the working group that developed the report, today told the ABC…
A detective displays seized methamphetamine and cash from a raid in February 2012 that involved an international drug ring. AAP image/Cortlan Bennett

The War on Drugs has failed – now what?

It’s official – the so-called War on Drugs has failed. A report released by thinktank Australia21 in parliament today makes it clear that not only has it failed miserably, but that political elites around…
Development agencies can’t ignore the impact of illicit drugs. AAP

Dependent on development: why we’re losing the war on drugs

Around 6% of the world’s population aged 15 to 64 use illicit drugs – that’s 250 million people. It’s a rapidly changing population, with many different pathways to illicit drug use and new users constantly…

Research and News (1)