When a popular commentator such as Eddie McGuire calls for change to drug laws in a News Ltd tabloid like the Sunday Herald Sun, you know that public opinion is shifting.
McGuire's article:"Time for national debate on evil drug trade" is a major shift for a News Ltd paper.
Yes, it is time for Australia to seriously look at decriminalising drugs
As readers of this blog will know, I've consistently advocated decriminalisation and regulation of drugs. The first article on this topic "It's time for a national debate on drug laws - decriminalise and regulate" said many of the same things as McGuire.
I'll repeat it again. Let's regulate, tax and manage.
The more recent article "Challenge the narcotics convention" discussed a very practical issue that our lawmakers will need to face to move down this path.
Who will take the lead?
So, now that we have the conservative tabloid contemplating change, will we see anyone from the Liberals supporting these calls? Given the Baillieu government's tough on crime stance, it still looks like the Victorian government is calling the shots from the old fashioned anti-drugs, anti-crime playbook. Maybe, a kingmaker like McGuire can influence from the inside. Working for James Packer as he does, he certainly has the connections, and I'd encourage him to have those quiet conversations that are so necessary to make political change happen.
On the Labor side, the social conservatives who still make up so many of the supporters are reluctant to head down this path either. With Prime Minister Gillard under fire from multiple directions, it's highly unlikely she would be willing to take this issue on right now.
And the Greens have also been reluctant. While their constituents are most likely to support a different drugs policy, the leadership hasn't wanted to be seen as a bunch of hippie pot smokers. Again, from a pragmatic perspective, it's understandable, but with recent disappointing poll results for the Greens, I hope they can be encouraged to take more courageous action on socially progressive issues like drugs. Especially now they can see that drug legalisation is becoming more of a mainstream view.
We will benefit by changing our approach
As Eddie points out, if we choose to spend money on "rehabilitation, advertising and teaching", society will end up millions (or up to $5 billion) in front of where we are now. Thank you Eddie for bringing this thinking to the Sunday Herald Sun readers. We need them on board to make these changes happen.
Let's keep discussing drug law reform sensibly. We will get there. We will benefit once we do.
Let me know what you think.