Letters / A welcome step in fixing failed drug laws

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Letter writer MARION McCONNELL says Michael Pettersson’s Bill to decriminalise small amounts of drugs for personal use is a very welcome small step in the right direction.

I FIND it difficult to understand why people who have suffered under illicit drug policy want that same policy to continue. (“Going soft on drug possession won’t fix the problem”, CN January 21).

To understand the need for change we must consider the broader picture and the real outcomes of prohibition drug policy and whether its goals have been achieved. 

If the goal of prohibition was to hand over the production and sale of drugs to drug cartels, encourage the sale of drugs through black-market pyramid selling; encourage the illegal manufacture of a diversity of drugs with no controls whatsoever; produce more criminals as those addicted commit crime to support their drug use; overpopulate our prisons; corrupt police and officials; lose thousands of lives yearly to drug overdose; fragment families; cost taxpayers billions of dollars, then the goals have certainly been met.

But if the goal were to reduce the availability and use of drugs it has been an absolute, dismal failure.

Michael Pettersson’s Bill to decriminalise small amounts of drugs for personal use with access to health guidance and information is a very welcome small change in the right direction.

Marion McConnell, Giralang

Did we vote for these policies?

I THOROUGHLY agree with Bill Stefaniak’s article “Going soft on drug possession won’t fix the problem” (CN January 21). 

Have people advocating this softened approach ever had close-up experience of drug addicts with their lifetime of scrambled brains and social and economic dependency on others? Most of them probably started their addiction with a seemingly harmless “small dose”.

I suspect Bill is correct to think that MLA Michael Pettersson has the backing of the Labor/Greens cabinet in putting forward this Bill as a “tester” of public feeling. 

I can imagine that Shane Rattenbury is waiting in the wings with his proposal for a permanent pill-testing clinic in Civic; yet another message to young people to disregard the law and “have a go at drugs”. Did the Canberra community really vote for these policies?

Bill Bowron, Wanniassa

Bigger blocks, fewer roads

IN new suburbs such as Whitlam, the (expensive) typical blocks of land are too small for healthy family use. Limiting “urban sprawl” is the excuse. 

The problem is that virtually all blocks are given full-frontage street addresses. So huge areas of land are given over to roads and verges. And, new estates have to be scraped back to bare earth because of the massive road footprint, and because the tiny blocks have to be made almost level to build on effectively. All this serves only the sub-division, façade-design, spec-building, and storage “industries”.

Lost is the existing natural soil profile and vegetation; and unavailable are flexible solar access for internal and external living areas, and space for gardens, good-sized trees, lawns, trampolines, sheds, pools and even “granny flats”, which all contribute to family well being.

A paradigm shift in estate design could enable larger, cheaper blocks (say, typically, minimum 650 square metres), without reducing the overall number of them, or expanding the suburb.

The number and extent of roads can be readily reduced significantly, still with good public parkland (not in dangerous road median strips, as in some new suburbs), and space for utilities, emergency access, etcetera, while still achieving a legible address for each dwelling. 

Briefly, one solution is to have virtually all streets serving double rows of back-to-back blocks, with simple, readily identifiable, and durable access ways through to adjoining pairs in the “inner” rows.

Jack Kershaw, Kambah

Radio gem on the TV

WHILE struggling to find something to watch on evening TV, I came across a little gem I hadn’t before noticed or considered.

Something worthwhile to watch on television? Not exactly. Its Kids 

Radio channel 202 on the television!

After 9 at night it plays beautiful, calm music uninterrupted by anything including the human voice. Who’da thought it?

This needs to be better known.

 Phil Dickson, via email

‘Keep up the good work’

CONTRIBUTORS to “CityNews” seem to have more regard for correct word usage and correct spelling than many current journalists. 

Ian Meikle’s “Seven Days” column in the January 21 edition was more than usually delightful with its inclusion of 16 winners from “The Washington Post” neologism competition. 

I think my favourite was “Balderdash (n.) a rapidly receding hairline”, though pre-octogenarians may well have other favourites.

Anyway, please keep up the good work.

Michael Duffy, Curtin

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