Was Sisyphus a Pusher? "What's Wrong with Addiction?", by Helen Keane and "Modernising Australia's Drug Policy", by Alex Wodak and Timothy Moore. [review]
The current legal régime for the regulation of drugs has many unintended consequences. One of its minor tragedies is the number of thinkers and activists whose valuable energies are thus diverted to the Sisyphean labour of undoing it. So many words have now been written on the failure of prohibition that there is surely little more to be added. More than a decade ago, former Senator Peter Baume expressed it well: ‘Our strategies seek to prevent the production of certain designated illegal substances, and fail to do so; they seek to prevent the importation of substances, and fail to do so; they seek to prevent the distribution of substances, and fail to do so; they seek to prevent the sale and use of substances, and fail to do so.’ Instead, our laws and policies make all these activities that much more dangerous, more corrupt, more poisonous and more destructive. Nevertheless, new books appear. Some are by bright young scholars for whom the very perversity of the laws is strangely compelling, and the paradox of the entrenched community support they enjoy compellingly strange: Helen Keane’s "What’s Wrong with Addiction?" falls into this category. Still others are penned by hardened front-line warriors whose long experience in the field gives them an authority and directness that commands our respect: Alex Wodak and Timothy Moore’s short manifesto, "Modernising Australia’s Drug Policy", falls into this category. Together these two recent texts provide us with a clear picture of our present problems in dealing with drugs, and the occasional glimmer of an alternative future.