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Market & non-market policies for managing dangerous drug use

Economists are naturally interested in markets for licit and illicit drugs. This market-based view of drug issues is a plausible way of looking at society-wide drug issues since both licit and illicit drugs are sold in markets and the market-based approach permits an assessment of both direct and indirect consequences of policies in terms of […]

Heroin on prescription

The Swiss have legalised the prescription of heroin to addicted users. The measure apparently has 68% Swiss community support although 63% oppose the legalisation of cannabis.

This move is poor policy since it reduces the user cost of heroin to addicts and therefore reduces their incentives to cease using. To the extent there is any […]


An interesting story that I have known about for years – but which has only just resurfaced – oxycodone is replacing heroin as the drug of choice among former heroin users. It has most recently resurfaced at Sydney’s “Safe Injection Room” AKA the Labor Party shrine to Stupid Public Policy. Oxycodone is a opioid pain […]

No need for moral panic over drugs

I have pointed out repeatedly that drug use in Australia is under control. Cigarette, heroin, amphetamine and cannabis consumption are declining and alcohol consumption is roughly stable. It is the reason I don’t support moves to reform drug laws on the grounds that current laws have failed – they have not failed at all.

An […]

Drug treatment industry supporters of illicit drug decriminalisation

I’ve posted before on the preposterious claims of Dr Alex Wodak that decriminalising cannabis use would decrease use. To the extent it provides an additional source of supply not subject to the user costs of relying on illegal markets I find it impossible to believe such claims*. The difficulty with these effoneous claims is that […]

Albert Hofman RIP

Albert Hofman, the discoverer of LSD and long term psychedelic adventurer died on April 29 aged 102. A collection of obituaries and videos on Albert’s life are here. Hofman disliked the way Timothy Leary and the other psychedelic enthusiasts gave LSD a bad press since he believed LSD could expose people to the spiritual side […]

Sell cannabis in post offices

The Director of the alcohol and drug service at St Vincent’s Hospital Dr Alex Wodak proposes selling cannabis in post offices to cut consumption. He made the proposal for taxed and legalised cannabis at the Mardi Grass festival in Nimbin on Sunday (!), but said he would be happy to express his opinion to the […]

Australian drug use trends

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey has just been released (here). This is by far the most useful and accurate study of drug use trends in Australia.

Tobacco consumption continues to fall – less than 1 in 5 Australians smoked over the past 12 months. There is a very significant reduction in daily alcohol […]

Junkies insist on rights to use public charity to buy their dope

This is cute. A protest from the junkie union (AIVL) objecting to John Howard’s proposal to prevent junkies spending public money on drugs, booze and cigarettes.

The AIVL supports the ‘second theorem of welfare economics’ – that charity transfers should be monetary leaving recipients to determine how they spend their money. Often I do […]

Ben Cousins

The AFL’s Ben Cousins was arrested yesterday in Perth and charged with allegedly possessing unspecified illegal drugs. His arrest seems to have been pre-planned by police and news camera people were on hand to photograph Cousins, naked from the waist up, waiting in his car as it was searched and then as he was taken […]

Bronwyn Bishop gets tough on harm minimisers

The Coalition’s ‘tough on drugs’ policy has been, in fact, a de facto harm-minimisation policy with a tough, external public persona. The years of being tough on drug users in Australia are, in fact, long since finished. With respect to heroin addictions, emphasis for a long time has been on treatment of the addiction by […]

End of heroin & advent of socially-approved big pharma narcotics provision

I posted a few days ago on the explosion in use of illegally-diverted prescription painkillers such as oxycodone now occurring in the US and throughout the western world. In my view this is a dramatic development that may signal the advent of a new global drug problem that is, in many ways, analogous to the […]

A nation in pain

This article in The Age reports on an explosion of addictive painkiller use in the US. It fails to mention that a significant degree of this abuse is due to prescription and illegally-diverted prescription use by those addicted to these drugs. Oxycodone is the drug most responsible for the increased use of painkillers – it […]

Indigenous involvement in crime

Via Andrew Leigh I got a link to this useful data base on ATSI involvement in crime. It is old (2002, why?) but as up-to-date as anything else available. It is a grim picture.

A quarter of ATSI had been subject to violent attack in the past 12 months. There are high rates of […]

More drivers test for drugs than for alcohol

Testing for drink driving has helped slash the number of fatal accidents involving alcohol from 40% of the total to 19%. The road toll has fallen overall also. But in an interesting twist of 1600 drivers tested in NSW one in 46 was found to have consumed illicit drugs – amphetamines, ecstasy and cannabis are […]

Big business flogs addictive opiates

Almost all painkillers can be abused and all opiate-based pain killers can be addictive. And markets are, yes, wonderful institutions – try to prohibit use of something which kills and damages people and, yes, markets will deliver an alternative. Profits will be earned, junkies will get the dope they want and a beloved ‘welfare triangle’ […]

Turn on, tune in & suspend your critical faculties

This recent article in Time asks whether Tim Leary was right – psychedelics are good for you?

The study of psychedelics in the ’50s and ’60s eventually devolved into the drug free-for-all of the ’70s. But the new research is careful and promising. Last year two top journals, the Archives of General Psychiatry and […]

A stupid endorsement of harm-minimization

Dr Alex Wodak made a statement to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services, as part of its inquiry into ‘The impact of illicit drug use on families’. Wodak is Australia’s leading protagonist for increasing the role of harm minimization in illicit drug management policy. In my view he is being […]

Ice plan

The Federal Government has announced a $150 million plan to tackle the ice/amphetamine problem. About $60 million will be spent strengthening law inforcement abilities to tackle the supply-side and $80 million to treat the 73,000 nitwits who habitually take these destructive drugs.

Australian use of amphetamines is large relative to other countries but has been […]

Of Substance

One of the better publications I receive on licit and illicit drug consumption in Australia is Of Substance.

This is published by the Australian National Council on Drugs and is available in printed version or online free of charge (at coutesy of the Department of Health and Aging. The April 2007 issue has […]