Drug Law Reform in the media

Social justice and a healthier, safer world through better drug policies and laws

The release of the ACC National Drug Data report has sparked a discussion about the use of Ice in Australia (ABC  news 25.3.2014)

Must listen - live or by podcast: Sharon Davis' excellent 3 part series on the NSW Drug Courts: (Radio National beginning Mon 9.02.2015)
Accompanying article in (The Guardian 7.2.2015)

Excellent story: Deaths highlight ecstasy dangers but does zero-tolerance put lives at risk? (ABC730 16.2.2015)

Five myths about drug mules and the death penalty: The Conversation 

Excellent series in the UK Guardian: Drugs Uncovered 2014

The ABC's Foreign Correspondent (17.6.2014) examines how big business is poised to enter the cannabis market in the US following the decriminalisation in various states - the next question 'how to decriminalise' not 'whether to decriminalise'?

David Simon - creator of 'The Wire' - talks at length with The Guardian about The War on Drugs, Baltimore and the corrosive effects of drugs and the drug trade on his city. An excellent overview of the links between poverty, unemployment, labour regulation and trade union erosion and the war on drugs.

A detailed and fascinating exploration in The New Inquiry (25th April 2013) of the history of drug legislation: The difference between legal and illegal drugs is about history and business, but not science

A Canadian initiative may hold answers for Latin America writes Oakland Ross in The Star (7 July 2013): Latin America tries for a kinder gentler war on drugs.

Medical Cannabis:


Alex Wodak and Nick Cowdery on the topic of sniffer dogs (SMH 1/12/2014)

Alex Wodak on ABC Radio: Rethinking the Cannabis Question (9th May, 2014)

Abbott Government withdraws funding to the peak harm minimisation body:  Alchohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia:

Greg Barns explores the dichotomy between cracking down on 'bikies' while the drugs they manufacture remain illegal in The Drum (3rd October 2013)

Antony Lowenstein's well researched and persuasive discussion in The Guardian (30th July 2013) on the failure of the War on Drugs and the need to Legalise and Tax currently illicit substances: another voice added to the growing chorus of those seeking a sensible and effective response to drug use.

Prisoner's death from heroin overdose - Coroner delivers findings: (Sydney Morning Herald 18th July 2013): ''The evidence [from inmates] was compelling and frighteningly frank, namely that illicit substances, including heroin, marijuana and the illegally obtained prescription medication bulamorphine were easily accessible to inmates,''

In a wide ranging interview (17.4.2013) with ABC Radio JJJ's Tom Tilley for 'Hack', Detective Superintendant Nick Bingham, the head of the NSW police drug squad says penalties should be softened for minor drug possession (online version here). ADLaRI's Alex Wodak was also interviewed for the story.

Drop Charges over ecstasy, (Sydney Morning Herald 21.3.2103) Dr Neal Blewett's keynote address to the peak police drug and alcohol forum in Australasia.Read more:

Alex Wodak writes in 'The Conversation': (26.10.12) Once again, overdose deaths from opioids are increasing in Australia. And once again, we are in danger of ignoring effective, evidence-based interventions.

Australia 21 Follow up report:

Released on September 9th 2012, the Australia 21 roundtable followed its first report with an examination of how Australia might construct policy that is evidence based and informed by the experiences of other countries. Media discussion seems divided along much the same lines as with the previous report with Government and Opposition spokespeople speaking of 'sending a message' and 'zero tolerance', while experts and those with experience speak out in support of change.

Alex Wodak (ADLARI and Australia 21 roundtable member) writes in The Conversation: Drug prohibition, moving to Plan B

Greg Barnes writes in The Drum (10.09.2012) Australia's crackdown on drugs has been pointless and devastating. What are we trying to achieve?

Articles on the launch of the report have appeared on ABC Online, which includes links to related stories and is being constantly updated and The Australian.

Ex AFP chief and roundtable panellist Mick Palmer appeared on ABC's Breakfast News on Monday 10th September to discuss the findings of the report, followed by Opposition spokesman Peter Dutton who reaffirmed the party's 'zero tolerance' approach, rejected the findings of the report, and spoke of the need to 'send a message' instead.

Australia 21 Report One:

April 3rd 2012 saw Australia 21 release its report - unambigously entitled: The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are all letting it happen.

  • ADLaRI's Nick Cowdery and Alex Wodak were members of the Australia21 roundtable including prominent Australians, researchers, students and parents.
  • Barrister Greg Barns writes in The Drum

Following debate and media interest arising from the release of the first Australia 21 report, the Sydney Morning Herald has been running a series of articles and investigative pieces about the 'discussion' in Australia regarding drugs.

  • A perspective not often heard in mainstream media is that of the drug user themselves, this article by Kate Holden addresses the issue of illegality from the perspective of an addict


Customs officials busted in drug importation racket:  Eight people, including two customs officers and one quarantine official, have been arrested over their involvement in smuggling drugs through Sydney airport (20.12.2012) ABC reports. 

See a detailed summary of ABC 7.30 and Fairfax Media investigations into Customs and Quarantine corruption here (20.12.2012)

A Sydney Morning Herald (25.5.2012) article on the recent 2 year 'Operation Polaris' multi agency investigation into corruption on Australia's waterfront. Unsurprisingly, drug importation and the involvment of organised crime has been uncovered, along with extensive infiltration into and corruption of Customs and other officials. The Age reports on the arrest of a Customs officer (3.9.2012). More details of the report and links can be found on our 'basic facts' page, under the discussion on corruption


Liberal MP Mal Washer, Greens senator Richard Di Natale (who are both doctors) and independent Rob Oakeshott called on the government to ask the Productivity Commission to investigate the current adequacy of illegal drug laws (Sydney Morning Herald, 27.6.2012), Read more

ABC's online discussion platform "The Drum" is home to a great deal of the debate around drugs and drug law:

John Silvester writes in The Age about LEAP and changing attitudes among police officers towards the War on Drugs

Needle Exchange in prisons

As the debate over the ACT Government's proposed trial of needle exchanges in prisons continues, Jack Wallace: Research Fellow at the Australian Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University writes in The Conversation about the benefits of sterile needle use in prison environments.

  • Adrienne Francis' report on the ACT proposal in which she interviews ADLaRI's Alex Wodak and Paul Cubitt on ABC Radio's AM program can be heard here

David Marr writes with his customary incisive thoroughness: 'What's wrong with drugs?'' in the Sydney Morning Herald (3.12.2011). This article also provides an excellent precis of Australia's history concerning illicit drugs and the ''war on drugs''.


Britain enters it's own drug policy debate: The release of a report by a committee of Ministers and Government advisors has sparked a debate in parliament and in the media on drug decriminalisation and policy in the UK.

Politics.co.uk has extensive coverage of the debate and David Cameron and Nick Clegg have taken opposing stances on the issue

Marijuana for personal use legalised in 2 US States:

The 2012 US elections brought historic decisions to legalise marijuana for personal use in Washington and Colorado: As these States move into hitherto uncharted territory, they will essentially be addressing issues as they arise, including the fact that marijuana is still a prohibited drug under US Federal law.

Thinkprogress.org looks at the proposed legislation in advance of the election, and ahead to potential ways authorities might move forward

The Seattle Police Department has already released a guide to marijuana use, despite still grappling with issues such as marijuana use by police officers & the use of sniffer dogs

Ethan Nadelmann discusses the legal implications on Bloomberg TV (10.11.12)

The Huffington Post offers a thorough discussion with some good links

Latin America continues to struggle with the ramifications of it's involvment in the War on Drugs:

Mexico's new Government states that the war on drug cartels has worsened the drugs crisis reports The Guardian (19.12.2012)


The International Drug Policy Consortium has an excellent and regularly updated list of international news and events, read and subscribe here

David Nutt, former adviser to the UK government, says the ban on drugs like ecstasy is hampering neuroscience in New Scientist (12 June 2012)

The New York TImes 'Room for Debate' section is host to an ongoing series of articles about drug legislation and the war on drugs, ADLaRI's Ernie Drucker writes "Stop outsourcing our drug murders" . The page also contains links to a series of other articles.

Ethan Nadelmann writes in the Huffington Post (10th March 2012) about new directions and sentiment in Latin America

A recent Canadian poll finds that 66% of Canadians support legalising marijuana according to this article in the National Post (17.1.2012)

A Wall St Journal article discussing the practices of the NYPD regarding low-level marijuana arrests (8.12.2011)

  • And a related Wall St Journal article examining the recent shooting by the NYPD of an unarmed 18yo in possession of a small amount of marijuana and the community outrage that has ensued (7.2.2012)

Stopthedrugwar.org's top ten international drug policy stories of 2011

A report in the International Business times (June 2011) examines the ramifications of the release of the Global Commission on Drug Policy report.

 A poll on the blog of Britain's Conservative Party (Nov 2011) shows limited support for the status quo regarding drug laws and surprisingly healthy support for some form of decriminalisation. The poll follows a debate on the blog over drug law reform.. something that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.