10 Sep 2012

Decriminalisation of ecstasy and cannabis recommended

8:47 am on 10 September 2012

An Australian report into illicit drugs has recommended decriminalising ecstasy and cannabis under a government-controlled programme to help curb addiction.

The 52-page report on alternatives to prohibition was issued on Sunday in Adelaide by the Australia 21 group.

The ABC reports it proposes the establishment of a government supplier for cannabis and ecstasy.

The drugs would be available to people older than 16, who would then be supported by counselling and treatment programs.

The report also recommends similar programmes for heroin and cannabis use.

Professor Bob Douglas said it is clear that prohibition is not working and Australia needed to have a serious debate about legalising controlled drug use.

"It's been a political benefit for people to pretend they're tough on drugs, but lots of politicians in Australia recognise now that this has to be changed," he said.

Professor Douglas said similar programs are being used in Europe with proven positive results.

He said criminal gangs have a monopoly on the black market, but a government regulated drug program could help to safely curb usage.

Drug seizures

Australian Federal Police seized almost 14 tonnes of drugs and ingredients in 2011-12.

The ABC reports the figure is a jump of 164% on the five tonnes seized the previous year, and more than 11 times the amount seized the year before that.

Almost 12 tonnes of chemicals used to make drugs were seized, up 263%.

More amphetamines and cocaine were found, but seizures of heroin and cannabis fell.

In the past financial year, the AFP confiscated nearly $A100 million in criminal assets, more than double the $A41 million confiscated the previous year.