A review of The Cruel Hoax: Street Drugs in Australia. By Elaine Walters.

Shield, 1996.

Today drug use/abuse is not confined to the fringes of society. It is becoming mainstream, glamourised in films, music and magazines.

As a response, Elaine Walters’ new book, The Cruel Hoax, is most timely.

This book dispels many of the myths concerning the legalisation debate, and provides a wealth of information on the harmful effects of drugs. A well financed international body of pro-drug advocates have been steadily laying the groundwork for decriminalisation over the past few decades.

They use terms like ‘responsible use of drugs’ and `harm minimisation’ – terms which are dangerously deceptive. The Cruel Hoax exposes the fraudulent claims being made, and shows that there can be no responsible use of illicit drugs. and that legalisation will not minimise harm but instead cause greater harm.

Elaine Walters argues that prevention is far better than cure. Sweden is held up as a model in this regard (something the Penington report overlooks altogether). The Swedish policy is that of a drug-free society. Its philosophy reads in part: “We do not accept the integration of drugs in society, and our aim is a society in which drug abuse remains a marginal phenomenon. A drug-free society is a vision expressing optimism and positive view of humanity: the onslaught of drugs can be restrained, and drug abusers can be rehabilitated.”

The pro-drug lobby maintains that legal sanctions are not effective. Yet as Mrs. Walters points out, in Australia about one in two 16-18 year olds have tried marijuana. But in Sweden, where sanctions are among the strictest in the western world, only one in 20 have tried it.

The kind of information parents and educators need is in this book. It is filled with facts and information. This book deserves to be distributed and read widely.

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