Drug discussions not as sweet as sugar

Lachlan Munro reports on a recent expert panel on drugs and alcohol

The most toxic substance in the world is sugar.
So said Dr Bill Rocks, one of the first guest speakers at a recent public forum on drugs and alcohol, held at the Sydney University Nursing School. The forum was put on by a naturopathic company, and Dr Rocks – an “integrative GP” – was an invited speaker. After likening the damaging effects of crack cocaine addiction to sugar, the self described “human body repairman” then outlined his holistic method of drug and alcohol detox using transdermal nutrient creams and liquid nutrition drinks he had developed.
Dr Rocks claimed to have cured hundreds of people of their crippling habits by using these methods. Undeterred by Dr Rocks’ self-proclaimed solution, the expert panel kicked on in the debate.
The panel was chaired by Triple J’s Tom Tilly, who managed to keep things moving along nicely. Early on it was clear who had the strongest viewpoints and would be dominating the debate. Fred Nile was in favour of stricter drug laws to send a clear “zero tolerance” message, and had a raging (albeit Godfearing) hard-on for the successful zerotolerance policy adopted by Sweden.
Hardlining on the other side of the debate was Alex Wodak from the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation who, armed with an impressive arsenal of statistics, claimed the “case for prohibition has collapsed.” These two quickly descended into a back and forth exchange that covered and recovered the same ground.
The one point they could agree on was that tighter regulation was needed for alcohol, which everyone in attendance (apart from Dr Bill “Sugar is Deadly, Buy My Nutrient Cream” Rocks) agreed was society’s biggest problem substance.
Throughout the debate the argument for more liberal drug laws very much had the room, although the most charismatic member for the other side was Fred Nile, so this is hardly surprising.
The more interesting input, though, came from the panel members and invited guests who possessed less of an agenda. Superintendent Frank Hansen from the NSW police force made the sensible point that police need options to give people access to health services if caught in possession of drugs.
He advocated for more police flexibility and was in favour of expanding the current cautioning system for cannabis possession to other drugs.
Vince Coyte, CEO at The Glen Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centre, a facility that focuses on Indigenous addiction, also had some passionate points to make.
Mr Coyte radiated a no-bullshit attitude, and when asked his opinion on how legislation and regulatory changes would affect his clients, responded with a straightforward “they couldn’t give a stuff.” He pointed out that if someone has been traumatised from a young age and becomes addicted to a substances they will get their hands on it regardless of the law. More important than legislation, he argued, was a cultural change and curtailing of the high levels of trauma experienced by Indigenous Australians.

To see the whole debate, go to  naturopathmax.com/public-forum

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