Should the government decriminalise drugs?

A Public Forum

Co-presented by The Sydney Morning Herald and Futureye


The Sydney Morning Herald video of the forum

21 May, 2012

In January 2012, Australia21 gathered experts from a wide variety of disciplines together to consider an Australian perspective on the 2011 Global Commission on Drug Policy report, which concluded that the “War on Drugs” had failed. Among many recommendations, the Australia21 roundtable called for the media to lead an evidence-based discussion with the people of Australia about our national policy on illicit drug use, in order to reopen the debate on prohibition.

The Sydney Morning Herald, in conjunction with Sydney Ideas, responded to this call by hosting a public forum that considered the very complex question, should the government decriminalise drugs? The panel included representatives from the Australia21 roundtable as well other key experts and commentators to deliver a wide spectrum of perspectives on the issue of drug prohibition.

They considered what events and ideas shaped these perspectives; how these perspectives have changed over time and what the current approaches to this issue mean for Australia in the future.

Hosted by the Herald’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Peter Fray, and the Managing Director of Futureye, Katherine Teh-White, the forum panel included:

  • David Marr, Senior Writer at The Sydney Morning Herald and author of 2011 book Panic
  • Professor Kate Conigrave, Addiction Medicine Specialist and Professor, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney
  • Dr Alex Wodak, AM President Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Former President International Harm Reduction Association and Board Member of Australia21
  • Gary Christian, Secretary and Research Director of Drug Free Australia
  • Vivienne Moxham-Hall, Arts and Science Graduate, Student Union Director, University of Sydney and Honorary Advisor to Australia21
  • Tony Trimingham, Chief Executive Officer, Family Drug Support and father of Damien Trimingham, victim of a heroin overdose in 1997

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