Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
PRICING DRUGS OFF THE MARKET
Ross Gittins overlooks one factor in his economist's analysis of illicit
drug use. Gittins relates Don Weatherburn's explanation of the spike in
crime caused by the switch to cocaine when the heroin drought hit but fails
to explain the decline in crime that followed.
More than 30,000 Australians now participate in methadone programs; that's
nearly half of the number of heavy heroin users. While cocaine may have
been a short-term substitute for some, methadone is an accessible and cheap
substitute for the majority of heroin users.
While Gittins focuses on the role of policing in reducing the supply of
illicit drugs, he fails to acknowledge the role of harm minimisation
strategies in reducing demand. The combined effect of reducing both supply
and demand is leading to reduced crime rates. We need both strategies in
place to develop a climate conducive to reducing illicit drug use. The real
war on drugs is the battle fought every day by people addicted to illicit