Harm minimization in a prohibition context - Australia

Gabriele Bammer*, Wayne Hall, Margaret Hamilton, Robert Ali

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Australia ranks high internationally in the prevalence of cannabis and other illicit drug use, with the prevalence of all illicit drug use increasing since the 1970s. There are two distinctive features associated with harms from injecting drug use - high rates of death from heroin overdose and low rates of HIV infection. Australia has largely avoided a punitive and moralistic drug policy, developing instead harm minimization strategies and a robust treatment framework embedded in a strong law enforcement regime. Two illustrations of Australian drug policy are presented: legislation that provides for the expiation of simple cannabis offences by payment of a fine and the widespread implementation of agonist maintenance treatment for heroin dependence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)80-93
    Number of pages14
    JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
    Issue numberJULY
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


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