When reading a piece on The Guardian on how to possibly tax and regulate illegal drugs in Australia there was an astonishing fact they published about just how much we’re spending on them!
Amongst the report published by the Bureau of Statistics in June that outlines some of the options and case studies for a 180 from the current ‘War on Drugs’ it’s said Australians spend up to $7 billion on a ‘cocktail’ of drugs each year, put this in perspective it’s $2 billion more than FASHION!
Now stop for a second and take that in, a country with only close to 30 million people manages to spend such an outrageous amount.
There are of course external factors to take into consideration – we live on an island making it substantially harder for traffickers to bring narcotics be it in a final product or precursor but it still stands as a frightening amount being spent. Also consider that the most widely consumed drug in Australia remains cannabis which can and often is grown right here at home versus being imported.
This far overshadows the measly $1.1 billion being spent for the war on drugs that can often be linked to cartels overseas and has led to corruption and bloodshed over the past decade.
Again this figure is a far cry from the $361 million spent on treatment and $36 million for harm reduction leaving those with drug problems on the back foot when combating the addiction.
When skimming through the report the ABS point out that profit margins for manufacturers and retails of illegal narcotics can reach up to 80% making the black market drug industry a very alluring one.
Another interesting point The Guardian brings up is Portugal’s approach to the ‘War on Drug’ by decriminalising a range of the narcotics which has led to a minimal rise and shifted focus on treatment rather than treating users like criminals.
In the wake of hundreds of charges being laid at Stereosonic and the sad passing of a punter at Harbourlife there could be some more positive steps taken by the Government to protect and educate while at the same time taxing a totally unregulated market.
Maybe even pushing testing kits at festivals and clubs would be a start?