For many years experts in the field of drug policy in Australia have known existing policies are failing. Crude messages (calls for total abstinence: “just say no to drugs”) and even cruder enforcement strategies (harsher penalties, criminalisation of drug users) have had no impact on the use of drugs or the extent of their harmful effects on the community.
Whether we like it or not, drug use is common in our society, especially among young people. In 2016 43% of people aged 14 and older reported they had used an illicit drug at some point in their lifetime. And 28% of people in their twenties said they had used illicit drugs in the past year.