Author Don Weatherburn
Published February 2009
Report Type Affiliated publication
Subject Costs of crime; Drugs and Drug Courts; Policing
Keywords Drug policy goal, drug user, harm minimization, harm reduction, methadone, supply, control

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This paper discusses the dilemmas inherent in pursuing a philosophy of (drug) harm minimization. The dilemmas arise (i) because all drug control policies produce harms as well as benefits; (ii) because many of these harms and benefits cannot be measured; and (iii) because even when they can be measured, judgements about what harms matter the most are irreducibly political. The paper concludes by proposing that the interests of drug policy might be better served if we abandoned the idea of an overarching goal in favour of a set of goals dealing with specific identifiable problems.