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Calls For A Rethinking On The War On Drugs After Another Death At A Music Festival

Discussion on the effectiveness of the local war on drugs has flared up again in the wake of a 25 year old woman overdosing at Stereosonic Music Festival in Sydney overnight, with many calling out the heavy police presence as a negative impact.

Police have since released a predictable statement which heavily points the finger at drug users and the drug culture in music industry with Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli saying “I think we have to get [to] the mentality of drug culture and music festivals. We’ve got to change it. There’s no such thing as safe drugs. You’re playing Russian roulette with your life.”

“I can honestly tell you that if I had more police dogs and more police, it’d just result in more people being arrested,” he also said on the police’s presence at Stereo, which although seems to reference the effect of cops and sniffer dogs on music festival attendees, doesn’t appear to show police are re-thinking their approach.

Elsewhere ER doctor and drug harm minimisation advocate Dr David Caldicott has spoken to Triple J’s Hack, saying he is sad and angry at another music festival overdose, but makes a plea for changing strategies on how we deal with drug use.

“There has got to be a better way and as long as young people are dying from this in Australia, we’re doing something wrong. The answer isn’t simply, in some sort of paternalistic way, to turn around and tell an entire community they’re naughty for using drugs, because they are going to use drugs.”

Caldicott’s plan to shift towards harm minimisation as opposed to harsh laws and penalties seems to be a much smarter way to start talking about drug use and the music industry, which is safe to say will never be void of illegal drugs, however some are simply calling for decriminalisation at large.

A Newtown law firm Dowson Turco has posted to Facebook today, calling for drugs to even be legalised, in order to lessen its impact on users.

“It’s awful waking up to news that a young girl died at Stereosonic and another is in an induced coma. It is heartbreaking and we are mad that junk is being sold to unwitting customers. But this is just another example of prohibition being ineffective and a waste of money.

If drugs were decriminalised – or even legalised – we are of the view that (based on evidence) less people would be harmed, less people would take drugs, drugs would be cleaner, money wouldn’t be wasted on police, consumers would be better informed and the courts wouldn’t be clogged up with drug possession offences.”

Whilst decriminalisation seems like a ways off, we desperately need to change the discourse from immediately vilifying drug users and throwing more cops and sniffer dogs at a problem which seems to be getting worse.

For the deaths to stop, we need an overhaul of the strategies implemented in the so-called war on drugs.


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