Author Don Weatherburn
Published January 2014
Report Type Affiliated publication
Subject Costs of crime; Drugs and Drug Courts; Socioeconomic factors and crime
Keywords Cannabis, decriminalization, depenalization, harm reduction, heroin, prohibition

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In September 2012, a group known as Australia 21 called for a rethink on the prohibition against illegal drugs. If the response from Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments is any guide, the call fell on deaf ears. In recent years, even scholarly debate about the merits of prohibition appears to have subsided. This paper acknowledges that social and financial costs of the prohibition against illegal drugs but argues that prohibition also prevents a great deal of harm. The multifarious nature of drug-related harm and the differences between people in the weight assigned to various harms makes it impossible say what policy best minimizes drug-related harm.