Drug problem in Australia and in the world has been a persistent issue. Drug misuse has rendered many people’s brains to malfunction and consequently low input into the economy. Young people have been adversely affected and drug use has resulted in crimes and prostitution so as to meet their cost of which some are extremely expensive. Other people have died, others becoming mad and others hallucinating and having weird illusions. However, the international community working together with various national governments has passed legislations to curb rampant drug use. Other nations like Malaysia have had very strict legislations on drug use to the extent they have been criticized severely.
Before Australia emerged as a federation, there were no elaborate and firm legislations regulating the use of drugs. Drugs that today are regarded as highly harmful like opium were used without any government restriction. The government only issued some unbinding warnings to try and cut overdosing related effects and fatality. Opium was used by the general public even by women as a pain relieving substance during the natural menstrual period. In fact, the very first objection to its use was out of racism by citizens of British descent opposing those of Far East decent citing morals and health related issues as a scapegoat otherwise there was no objective cause of opposition.
Today, at least 35% of the population in Australia from at least age fourteen has used cannabis alone; compare this to Malaysia which is below 1 % (Kleiman, 2011). The sharp difference is mainly due to the strictness of drug laws. The drug laws in Australia have not been very firm nor observed strictly and it would be advisable to adopt some of Malaysian policies where drug regulation is concerned, to curb and eradicate illicit use of drug substances in the nation.
The illicit use of drugs in the two nations can be a suitable platform for Australia to review, revise, and reform its illicit drug use policies. The areas around Malaysia are one of the hottest spots when it comes to narcotics in history but this has not made the nation drug riddled. The national laws have been crafted to ensure that if you are caught with controlled substances a hefty fine will be imposed and also sentenced to long term in jail. These are mandatory and not negotiable. When caught with substantial amounts of drugs like heroin or marijuana it is assumed to be trafficking (Emmett, 2009). For traffickers there is no way out as there is only one penalty- death penalty. Australia should at least adjust its laws and make them more extreme to deter illicit drugs.
Illicit drug use in the nation has a long history that should be tackled. When the nation became a federation a milestone was made as a couple of bills were passed to regulate heroin smoking and importation. However, it is noted that nothing much changed and in fact importation revenue was lost yet the flow of heroin into the country remained unaffected by the legislations. The government did not do any active or meaningful effort to stop heroin use. It is important to note that the nation only took more measures after being pressurized by Britain. This was after World War One where the international community was championing the prohibition of heroin and other narcotics.
However, the Vietnamese war of the 1960s saw the flooding of US troops into the country. Various bases set for the troops provided easy access to narcotics (Cohen, 1981). This created a kind of a youth revolution in the 1960s, the youth were willing to indulge and experiment on drugs. Although the police were aware and there having existing prohibition laws nothing was done to stop drug use. The police were sometimes in cahoots with peddlers; these drugs were mainly smuggled from South East Asia which shows border security had been neglected. The escalating use of heroin reached its climax in the 1980s and increased media attention made it worse to the level the prime minister admitted amid tears of his daughter’s use of heroin.
Today, cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance all over the country. The drug has a long history in the country and although the law says it is illegal, there have not been any prescribed punitive measures like in Malaysia. The only policies and strategies evolved are for ensuring the minimization of detrimental effects. In history, after importation of the hemp seed the government directly issued incentives such as land to encourage its growth supported. It was during the 1920s that its use started to be restricted and eventually outlawed in the 1930s. There was a propagation that it was making people mad and sex maniacs, consequently campaigns were launched to deter its use. However, such campaigns were not effective and did not receive much support.
Later demonstrations were organized to champion the abolition of clauses that outlawed it. The demonstrators were fearless and smoked the substance in public despite it being illegal. The police tried to arrest them but a riot erupted and instead of remaining steadfast, the police were cowed. Such riots gave birth to a movement known as the hemp movement which eventually saw the setting up of an embassy to support, advocate, and educate people the importance of the substance. The government went on to eradicate jail term for those charged in connection with the substance.
Prior to the 1970s the substance was not widely popular and used in large scale. However, researches have shown that afterwards usage escalated rapidly. Certain areas had been designated for the substance use. There emerged a public rich in finances willing to support the use of the drug and as unemployment escalated majority of the youth found themselves in drugs and subsequently crime level and insecurity went up to alarming rates. The government did little to regulate cannabis.
Today, if the government is to minimize the drug related crimes and illicit drug in the nation, new policies need to be adopted which have zero tolerance to drugs preferably like the Malaysian drug policies. In Malaysia drugs are not only viewed as a matter of health problem, but also as a matter of national security. Being a matter of national security has resulted in stern laws and restrictions. Drugs that are widely and legally used in other countries like ecstasy pills have been put under controlled substances and once caught misusing them there is a hefty penalty. Some celebrities visiting the country have been punished for having been found in possession of controlled substances without legal permit.
In the years gone, Malaysia used to be affected very much by drug abuse just like Australia. Government policies and strict binding laws have seen drastic reduction of drug misuse. This shows that tackling illicit drug issue is doable and hence Australia should adopt the same system or come up with its own measures. Research has shown that drugs escalate levels of crime; for example psychological disorders brought by drugs fuel persons to indulge in criminal activities (Muncie, 2009). Drugs are costly and if one does not have the money to purchase, criminal activities are necessary to secure the money to do so. Trafficking is a lucrative enterprise that draws many to participate, but it is an illegal activity.
However, Australia should avoid extreme laws and policies like Malaysia. Australia is a major tourist destination therefore implementing hefty fines for controlled substances could scare tourists from the country. Unlike Malaysia, Australia is not a Muslim dominated country. Muslim countries are known for strict laws of which many are based on their holy book the Koran; subjecting Australians to these extreme laws might violate the freedom of religion. Human rights activists have accused Malaysia of violating human rights laws by its death penalty on drug dealers thus Australia should avoid laws that could be viewed as a violation of human rights. Unlike Malaysia, Australia should concentrate on the hard drugs only, like cannabis and not even on controlled substances of Malaysia, as these substances are accepted internationally.
The history of the drugs in the country must be carefully studied so as to tackle the problem from the root cause and also to be objective. The research has shown that drugs like cannabis are readily available in market and are domestically grown. The good weather of the country is conducive for the growing of some of these drugs (Hall, 2003). The drugs are cheap and available making it easier, convenient, and economical for their users. The government must establish a special force to track and ensure that drugs grown are uprooted. In some states, although drug use is illegal one is not arrested if the amount is insignificant, this in itself is encouraging drug use. Night clubs and stripper joint should be closely monitored. Mandatory prison sentences and regulation of immigrants could also help control the drug use (Weather burn, 2004)
Australia has various policies in drug use control especially where it pertains to illegal drug use. However, compared to other countries like Malaysia, more need to be done. Drug rules must carry a form of harsh punishment otherwise the policies are bound to fail. The long history of some drugs have in the country should also be considered first so as to assist in making the desirable laws.
Cohen, S. (1981). The Substance Abuse Problems. New York: The Haworth Press.
Emmett, D., & Nice, G. (2009). What You Need to Know About Cannabis: Understanding the Facts. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Hall, W., & Pacula, R. (2003). Cannabis Use and Dependence: Public Health and Public Policy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Kleiman, R., & Hawdon, J. (2011). Encyclopedia of Drug Policy. New York: Sage Publications Inc.
Muncie, J. (2009). Youth and Crime. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Weatherburn, J. (2004). Law and Order in Australia: Rhetoric and Reality. Australia: Federation Press.