Category: Victimless Crimes

The case for pill testing

Over the New Year’s period two party goers have fatally overdosed at music festivals around the country, renewing the debate about pill testing which has become a contentious issue in New South Wales.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has taken a firm stance against pill testing in the wake of the two fatal overdoses and over 700 requiring drug related medical treatment at Defqon1 late last year.

Berejiklian has since softened her stance on pill testing after the deaths over New Year’s and is now open to considering the possibility of pill testing at future music festivals in the state. It is still unclear, however, if public money will be used to supply pill testing services or venue operators will be permitted to operate their own pill testing services privately, or with cooperation from outside institutions.

The current response to drugs in music festivals in both New South Wales … Read the rest

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Sex, cars and e-cigarettes

It is interesting to apply current thinking to decisions taken years ago. Whilst our greater knowledge today can make previous behaviours and thinking seem odd or plain wrong, there are also instances when applying todays approach would have stopped progress.

In the 1960’s it became apparent that seatbelts reduced harm from use of motor vehicles. Whilst the vast majority of users, got from A to B safely, there were (and still are) vehicle collisions causing death or serious injury.

Wearing seatbelts was not subjected to randomised double blind placebo trials. It was not felt that use of a seatbelt required a doctor’s prescription. Use of seatbelts did not make using vehicles harm free. We did not know if there may be long term harms from use.

Yet not only was this form of harm reduction recommended, it was made compulsory.

In the 1980’s we saw the advent of HIV/AIDS. It … Read the rest

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No freedom to choose

I once watched a speech on the nanny state by Brendan O’Neill who said that he didn’t like the term nanny state, for two reasons. One of them was because he thought the term much too cutesy and benign to describe the insidious authoritarian nature of attempts to control how people live their lives. The other reason was because as a child his grandmother was called ‘nanny’ as was mine. His nanny drank stout for breakfast and smoked like a chimney, likewise my own nanny loved sweet treats, didn’t partake in the kind of exercise that is recommended these days and didn’t like eating salad.  The lifestyles of our nannies were the antithesis of how the nanny state would like to see us behave.

But for those who didn’t call their grandmothers ‘nanny’ while growing up, the term points to something rather more sinister: the nanny of the nursery, the Read the rest

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Tobacco harm reduction and vaping: beyond a binary approach

In the Orwell classic Animal farm there was a binary notion that the animals lived by – “four legs good, two legs bad”. This eventually morphed into “four legs good, two legs better” as the pigs who became the lead animals began walking on two legs like the evil farmer they had replaced.

Binary thinking has a role in areas like engineering where unless a bridge or building is a certain strength it may fall down. However human biology is not quite as amenable to this approach. Notwithstanding that we are all similar, no two people (even identical twins) are exactly the same.

In seeking to treat or help people in medicine we need a variety of options. No antidepressant or antihypertensive works for everyone. Different approaches are required and we must tailor what is best to the individual. The more options we have the greater the number we can … Read the rest

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Cannabis: just legalise it already

Nearly half of all Australian electors are in favour of legalising cannabis, as a recent survey by Australian National University shows. 43% of respondents are in favour of legalisation and only 32% believe cannabis should remain criminalised. This means pot is more popular than either Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten. Similar levels of public support triggered a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage. With more and more jurisdictions seeing the green light on cannabis, why are Australian politicians lagging behind on legalisation?

Cannabis is the fourth most popular recreational drug in the world after alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. Its use has been documented in humanity’s earliest writings. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently found that five percent of the world’s population have used cannabis in the previous year. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that locally, more than ten percent of Australians have used cannabis Read the rest

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Campaigning for cancer

If you were told that the Cancer Council along with the Australian Medical Association were campaigning for more cancer, you would want to know what the hell is going on. And yet judging by their stance on e-cigarettes, it would seem that is precisely what they are doing.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use and Marketing of Electronic Cigarettes and Personal Vaporisers in Australia currently being held by the Standing Committee on Health Aged Care and Sport heard testimony last week from Dr John Bartone from the AMA. His stance and that of the AMA is that because we don’t know for sure that inhaling nicotine with vaporisers is 100% safe in the long run, then we should keep prohibition in place until exhaustive long-term studies have been done.

This might sound reasonable on the surface. After all how could the AMA endorse the use of a product that could Read the rest

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Fingerprint scanners – coming to a King of Knives near you.

On May 4 The Australian’s Paul Maley ran an exclusive story with the New South Wales Counter Terrorism Minister, David Elliot. The headline read:

‘Terror cops ‘need more of your info’.

According to the minister, ‘Police increasingly will need to rely on basic information about people’s daily personal transactions – such as car hires, knife purchases or hotel bookings – if they are to prevent terrorist attacks.’

‘As terrorist attacks become more rudimentary, Mr Elliot has flagged greater co-operation from the private sector as the key to keeping the community safe…. Islamic terror would likely be with Australians for decades to come, and defeating it would likely require ever greater sacrifices in privacy. In particular he said, deeper and more frequent information exchanges between authorities and the private sector could be needed, perhaps including mandatory reporting requirements for some industries.’

Mr Elliot cites other industry areas such as … Read the rest

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Nanny Knows Best

Recently we heard that a Tasmanian farmer Mr Carter, has had a run in with the Tasmanian Dairy Industry Authority for giving people a taste of raw milk straight from the udder of his dairy cows after a milking demonstration. He has been issued with an infringement notice for this subversive activity even though he isn’t selling raw milk, the justification being that consumption of raw milk carries with it health risks, especially for children.

It’s true that under certain conditions such as unhygienic milking or storage practises, raw milk may pose a health risk, however one could argue that milk straight from the udder of a well-cared for animal carries little to none.

I like to think that grown adults can make the decision for themselves about whether they decide to consume raw milk and Mr Carter agrees. He says that the milk tastings are the highlight of the Read the rest

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Cannabis use is a victimless crime that should be legalised

Much to the pleasure of potheads throughout Australia, medical marijuana was legalised after changes to the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 came into effect allowing businesses to apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis or manufacture cannabis products for medicinal purposes, or to conduct related research. While this is no doubt good news, and a step in the right direction, the supposed medical benefits or consequences of cannabis usage are irrelevant as to whether its usage should be a criminal offence. Smoking cannabis is a victimless crime that should be legal because consenting adults should have the freedom to make their own life choices.

There are many arguments for the legalisation of cannabis that include but not limited to: it would significantly weaken organised crime; it would raise much needed revenue for the government; potheads are more mellow than drunks. But, to argue any of those points would be missing Read the rest

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