On May 10th this year Intelligence Squared – the forum for live debate – hosted All Drugs Should Be Legalised in Sydney Australia.
You can watch the video alone here, or check out the audio here. They note on their website.
In most cases, prohibition has failed to curb demand and the provision of illicit drugs has become the lucrative trade of organised crime – with the associated ills of corruption, violence and health risks.
Some people urge tighter restrictions on all recreational drugs as the cure for social ills linked to their use and abuse. Others argue that all drugs should be legal – subject only to prudent regulation.
Below are the pre and post debate audience figures for All drugs should be legalised.
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Well prior to this debate, I was struck (to put it mildly) at the makeup of the negative team. Decorated veterans from The Enemies of Reason army, I felt more disappointment than the outrage I expected would engulf me. It was clear those bastions of moral evangelism and anti-drug hysteria, Drug Free Australia had quite likely been called upon to muster a good riposte to the ever expanding evidence supporting a change in policy. Like calling upon conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccination lobbyist Meryl Dorey of the AVN for “balance” one can rest assured DFA, enamored with pseudoscience, could fill the anti-drug niche. For “balance” if you like.
My next post will be my own biography of the negative team. These guys have a lot in common and I feel it’s only just to point out the “incestuous” relationship that manifests as informed opinion, but is in fact a superstitious, narrow and morality based attack on secular Australia, progressive policy, free thought, free choice, human rights and individuality. Yet my disappointment in “releasing the hounds”, so to speak stems from the fact I myself can argue against legalisation for reasons never mentioned here. Yet they tend to be reasons on variations of legality and access. Or concerns over black markets. Or solutions proffered by other pro legalisation movements. Australia is unique. Great arguments come from Norm Stamper and his colleagues at LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. But we don’t have shoot outs in suburban streets and thankfully, haven’t tortured and jailed our civilians at the rate the USA has. We already have Harm Reduction – we just need more. Period.
The negative team is:
Jade Lewis is a former drug addict who now campaigns and educates against use of illegal drugs. As a young teenager she was a champion junior athlete who competed internationally, and won the WA Doug Hancy Award, Athlete of the Year and Junior Sportswoman of the Year. Her records remain unbeaten in Western Australia. Her later heroin addiction, criminal behaviour and volatile relationships are recorded in her book, Golden Haze. She now educates at schools on positive relationships and runs a program for women prisoners.
Dr Greg Pike is the Director of the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute in Adelaide, South Australia where he focuses primarily on the influence of bioethics on public policy development. He trained as a physiologist with a PhD in muscle electrophysiology, becoming Hospital Research Scientist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the Department of Surgery. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Australian Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Program and a member of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, has served as a Deputy Member on the SA Council on Reproductive Technology and was a member of the Australian Health Ethics Committee for the 2006-09 triennium.
Paul Sheehan is one of the most thought-provoking commentators in Australia today. A columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Sheehan is a prominent writer and has written on the bigger debate about the politics of cultural diversity in contemporary Australia. He is one of Australia’s best-selling authors with three best-selling books including, most recently, the number-one best-seller, Girls Like You.
The positive team is:
Nicholas Cowdery AM QC BA LLB was the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions running the largest prosecuting agency in Australia from 1994 to 2011. He became a Barrister in 1971 and was Public Defender in Papua New Guinea for four years. As a Barrister in private practice in Sydney, he specialised in criminal law appearing in many high profile cases including the prosecutions of the late Justice Lionel Murphy (of the High Court of Australia) and of the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (former Premier of the State of Queensland). He is a member of the NSW Sentencing Council and the Advisory Committee, Sydney Institute of Criminology and the National Advisory Committee, Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention, University of Wollongong. He is the author of Getting Justice Wrong: myths, media and crime.
Wendy Harmer is a prominent Australian broadcaster, entertainer and veteran of countless international comedy festivals. She has presented top-rating morning radio and has hosted, written and appeared in a wide variety of TV shows including ABC’s Big Gig and In Harmer’s Way. Harmer is the author of several books for adults, two plays and a series of children’s books. She has also hosted the television Logie Awards and has been a regular newspaper and magazine contributor.
Dr Alex Wodak AM is a physician and has been Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service, St Vincent’s Hospital since 1982. His major interests include prevention of HIV among injecting drug users, treatment of drug users and drug policy reform. Dr Wodak is President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and was President of the International Harm Reduction Association (1996-2004). He helped establish the first needle syringe program (1986) and the first medically supervised injecting centre (1999) in Australia when both were pre-legal. Dr Wodak helped establish the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (1987) and the Australian needle syringe program annual survey (1995).