While being in complete agreement with the overall thrust of yesterday’s piece – “Prohibition drives ecstasy into a dodgy netherworld” – that most of the harms related to the use of so-called recreational drugs are the direct result of prohibition itself, the article pins the tail on the wrong donkey by attributing the quote: “ecstasy use was a growing problem among young people” to an “anti-drugs campaigner”.

With very few exceptions, one being SA Democrat Sandra Kanck, politicians of all stripes at both the state and federal level toe the prohibitionist line set in concrete by the PM when he launched the “Tough on Drugs” policy in 1997.

As a result, almost everything they say on the subject, particularly the federal Health minister, medical-officer-in-chief, and his offsider, Christopher still-pining-for-front-bench Pyne, is propagandist nonsense and bears no relationship to the medical evidence base.

One of the most credible voices, who by the nature of his position must and does adhere to the evidence base in all his public comments, is Paul Dillon, the public information officer for the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) based at the University of NSW medical school, and it was he who made the comment quoted above.

The statement is not alarmist or propagandist but rather a statement of fact: the more young people who use ecstasy (MDMA), the greater the potential problems from not only contamination but the inherent risks which accompany the use of any drug, be it licit or illicit.

Last Wednesday a federal parliamentary report was released after an inquiry “which looked at the manufacture, importation and use of amphetamines and other synthetic drugs (AOSD)” and recommended that pill testing be introduced at rave parties and events such as Good Vibrations.

If the federal government was really interested in the health and welfare of young people rather than scoring political points for being hairy-chested social conservatives they would implement the recommendations of this report, lock stock and smoking barrel, and wear the opprobrium.

Peter Fray

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