War on drugs

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Australia’s politicians were unable to save Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan from a firing squad in Indonesia. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Chan and Sukumaran are victims of the futile war on drugs

Australia's politicians were unable to make the most persuasive argument for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran because Australia is also a combatant in the misguided war on drugs.
Indonesia’s anti-drug policy that enforces the death penalty for drug traffickers is in line with international law. shutterstock

Indonesia does need the death penalty to deter drug traffickers

International pressure has mounted on Indonesia in recent months to stop its enforcement of the death penalty. But Indonesia should maintain its tough anti-drug stance.
Only a small proportion of Australians who use methamphetamines fall into a category of dependent users. Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Political fear-mongering just magnifies the harm ice can do

There is no doubt methamphetamine can cause harm. But when politicians hijack drug issues and overplay them for political purposes, that too can cause harm.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan inside a holding cell as they wait for their final appeal against the death sentence at Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia in 2010. EPA/Made Nagi

Impending Bali executions rely on mistaken ideas about drugs

Ideas about drug use that are used to justify the death penalty for smuggling don't hold up under scrutiny.
The Indonesian government is using statistics based on questionable methodology to justify capital punishment. LittleEvilYor/Shutterstock

Indonesia uses faulty stats on ‘drug crisis’ to justify death penalty

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s claim of a national drug “emergency” that necessitates the death penalty for drug crimes is based on questionable statistics. Jokowi, as he is popularly known in Indonesia…
Will the feds raid this Christmas tree? Rick Wilking/Reuters

Goliath vs. 24 Davids: federalism and legal marijuana

Abraham Lincoln said that those who shape public opinion exert an even greater influence than judges and lawmakers. In recent years popular sentiment – on issues like marriage equality and legalization…
Housing First is a program that offers housing to homeless drug users – regardless of whether or not they’re drug free – with a goal of social recovery. Bryan Guilas/Flickr

Being drug free shouldn’t be a requirement to receive housing

Over the past decade, drug use in the US has risen dramatically, with heroin use reaching epidemic proportions. The country’s policy for combating abuse has involved incarceration, abstinence-only treatment…
Legalised programs may be underused if doctors do not support them. boodoo/Flickr

Legalising medical cannabis: lessons from Canada’s policies

A bill to permit medical cannabis use in Australia is set for debate in Senate. If medical cannabis use is legalised, doctors could become gatekeepers between patients and a controversial drug. Lessons…
Anti-government messages on Mexico City streets: “Phony government that shoots at students.” Tomas Bravo/Reuters

Murder and the Mexican state

Most murders in the United States are well hidden. Popular tourist cities like Chicago, New Orleans and Washington D.C. have homicide rates substantially higher than the national average. At times they…
Zero tolerance is a faith and not a policy. Creativity103/Flickr

Like men possessed: what are illicit drug laws really for?

According to the UK government’s “first evidence-based study”, released at the end of last week, tough laws for personal possession of illicit drugs fail to lower levels of their use. This is not news…
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…

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