By Matt GabyBudget 2017: Drugs for recreational users could cost taxpayers $3.5 billion to $3 billion in a new policy designed to make the public aware of the difference.
The government is expected to publish the policy in the coming weeks and is keen to get it out in the open before it is subject to an expected Federal Court challenge.
Drugs are often called green because they have a colour to them that makes them readily identifiable from other substances, such as tobacco or alcohol.
Green pills are legal for recreational use but will cost more than blue pills when they come to market.
“They’re not all that different in terms of the chemicals they contain,” a Government source said.
“There are some chemicals in them that are potentially very dangerous to people, which we need to know before we get into the market.”
The Government has a new national strategy to help inform the public about the potential risks and benefits of drugs, and is also expected to set out how much money the Government will spend on drug education and research.
“We’re also looking at how we can better understand the health and well-being of our citizens and we want to do that in a way that’s as clear and transparent as possible,” the source said, explaining the Government would not make any public statements about the new policy until it had finalised it.
“This is about getting the information out as quickly as possible and getting the public informed.”
The new policy, known as the Drug Information Partnership, is a key part of the Government’s efforts to make drugs more easily accessible to people who might otherwise struggle to access them.
“Drugs have been a very common and effective tool in the fight against crime and drug abuse, and we know that we’re going to continue to see it used by criminals, by people who need help, by those in care, and for anyone who needs to get on with their lives,” the Government source explained.
“But we also need to recognise that people who are struggling with addiction and who are at risk of becoming addicted to a substance, or a person who needs help, can’t access it.”
“Drug abuse is a complex issue, but the vast majority of people who abuse drugs have the right to access treatment and access services.”
If we don’t make it clear to people that drugs can have different colours and colours are different, that they don’t have the same effect, that it has a different impact on people, that can make people feel like they are going to lose control and can make them more likely to seek help.
“The plan is also designed to highlight the potential dangers of drugs such as alcohol, which the Government says is “a gateway to more serious harm”.
Drugs will not be classified as legal for personal use, but will be regulated as a class B drug, which will require a prescription.”
That’s the most dangerous drug and that’s the one we need people to understand the risks of, and the risks to people in the community,” the Minister for Health said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the Government was committed to making drugs safer for everyone, and was working with other stakeholders to implement the policy.”
The Government is already working with the industry to help them address the harm caused by illicit drugs, including the use of psychoactive substances, and will continue to work with the medical profession to ensure drugs that have a significant risk to health, including prescription drugs, are treated appropriately.””
We have a very strong record of helping communities and communities at risk get access to treatment and treatment supports,” the spokesperson said.
Drug use is increasing in Australia, with an estimated 1.2 million people aged 15 to 64 reporting having used illicit drugs in the last 12 months.
The Government wants to see a decrease in the use and production of cannabis, the use by teenagers of illegal psychoactive drugs such the synthetic cannabinoid NBOMes and other “legal highs”, as well as increasing use of legal drugs such alcohol and tobacco.”
It’s a complex problem that affects many Australians and we will continue working with experts to understand and address this complex issue and will be delivering a comprehensive and transparent approach to drugs,” the spokesman said.
The Drug Information Partnerships aim to provide a national and local level drug information service, and to provide the Government with information about the availability of prescription drugs and to support and promote public awareness about the risks and harms of drugs.