I will seek the support of whichever party is in government after 11th March to:
● increase penalties for people caught carrying or importing trafficable quantities of drugs;
● initiate a workable and effective rehabilitation programme for people caught with small quantities of drugs for personal use;
● begin serious work to ascertain the real reasons for people resorting to drugs, however uncomfortable those reasons turn out to be, and to implement programmes to address those reasons, with the intention of significantly reducing the demand for drugs.
Markets generally work on a supply and demand basis: when there is a greater supply than demand then sellers seek more buyers, and prices drop in an effort to minimise loss of profit; and when demand exceeds supply, prices rise because buyers are willing to pay more for a product which is in short supply.
The illicit drug industry is no different. Dealers will bring supplies into the market when and where there is demand, controlling the quantity to maximise profits. If supplies get too much then prices drop and the dealers suffer, as happens when demand drops.
Our current way of dealing with the scourge of illicit drugs is heavily focused on trying to catch the big dealers, on the way collecting drug mules, who are just disposable pawns in the game for the dealers, who themselves remain well protected to avoid being caught. We send the mules, and those who are caught with small quantities though large enough to be end-user dealers themselves, to jail in the forlorn hope that we have made inroads into the problem. Whereas I have no doubt that taking illicit drugs out of the market is a good thing, and should be pursued vigorously, the reality is that everyone we send to jail will be replaced, before they’ve even faced court, by others doing exactly the same. We will never win the battle against illicit drugs unless we address the real problem.
What if we actually addressed the cause of the problem, which is not supply, but demand? If we were willing to look seriously at why people feel they need to resort to drugs, or why they don’t think critically enough to realise that someone is trying to con them into trying drugs, then we might just reduce the demand. Ultimately, if the demand is zero then it doesn’t matter how many tonnes of drugs are produced and placed on the market there will be no sales, and the principal dealers will leave us alone. Clearly that is an ideal situation which is highly unlikely to ever eventuate, but if we approach the problem from both ends we stand more chance of ridding ourselves of the worst of it.
The issue is not an easy one: it involves admitting that our society needs to look at how it operates, and what we are doing which results in people accepting an offer of drugs. It might call on us to make serious changes to how we relate to each other, but it will produce a happier, healthier and safer community for all.
Authorised by Steven Secker, 4 Dower Court, Armadale.