Heroin In Victoria
The issue of the decriminalization of heroin in Victoria
began during an apparent increase of the use of heroin in
the Victoria suburbs. During early December, 1995, the
public had heard that heroin was being used in a large
scale by some members of the community, in particular
Asians, living in inner Melbourne suburbs like Footscray.
The media has presented both arguments in favor and against
the decriminalization of heroin. It has given fair and
strong arguments to support both sides of the argument. The
first article, a letter to the editor called "Don't Rush on
Drugs", gives strong arguments opposing decriminalization.
The second article is an editorial called "A Fresh Look At
Drugs", gives an in depth look at the issue of the
decriminalization of heroin. The third article called
"Legal Drugs Also Kill", is against decriminalization but
also opposes other drugs. 

The argument for decriminalization of heroin is strongly
shown in a letter to the editor printed in the Herald-Sun
on the 12th of March 1996 (Appendix 1), by Mr. Warwick
Murphy. The headline "Don't Rush On Drugs" is totally
misleading as it makes the reader think that
decriminalization is occurring now. Murphy argues that
promoters of decriminalization are academics and
researchers; those most distant from people who will be
affected by any decriminalization. Then Mr. Murphy goes on
arguing, "Those against it are parents, counselors,
rehabilitation staff and, most importantly, the former
users; those who are involved directly with people using

The author uses logical evidence to convince the audience
to start listing to those most affected by heroin. Murphy
concludes his letter strongly by suggesting that
"decriminalization without first having tried these other
options seems to be jumping too far too soon". Murphy ends
the letter acknowledging himself as the project officer for
Drug-Arm, Victoria. 

Article two, " A Fresh Look At Drugs", an editorial printed
in The Age on the 4th of January 1996 (Appendix 2),
supports the Premiers Drug Advisory Council by saying it
"should be applauded for its energetic and imaginative
approach". The author writes "the alarming truth is that
Victoria's present drug laws are not working". The article
suggests that the council could look at aspects of the
Dutch and British approaches, "The legalization or
semi-legalization of addictive drugs might have a positive
long-term effect by undermining the black market, thereby
reducing profit incentives and the motivation for criminal

The article uses very strong logical evidence in order to
make the audience believe decriminalization is a good idea.
The article suggests decriminalization might sever the
connection between addiction and infectious diseases. This
proves that this article approves the idea of
decriminalization or at least semi-legalization of heroin.
Article three, "Legal Drugs Also Kill", a feature article
printed in the Herald-Sun on the 25th of January 1996
(Appendix 3), by Dr. Joe Santamaria. Dr. Santamaria begins
with, "We should be concerned about the Premier's drug
advisory council inquiry on illicit drugs". He goes on to
quote the councils' persuasive terms like "harm
minimization", "normalization" and "unwinnable war" in
order to put down the council. Then the author uses
language like methadone and drug-related deaths to try to
scare the audience. Dr. Santamaria quotes Dr. Alex Wodak's
opinion which supports the decriminalization , "heroin is
dangerous because it is prohibited, rather than prohibited
because it is dangerous".
Throughout the article, the author has used scare
techniques which are designed to influence the reader into
thinking that heroin is evil. He has also added a photo
which shows someone injecting himself with heroin; another
attempt by the author to scare the reader.
All three articles have adopted different approaches to the
issue of decriminalization of heroin. It can be said that
the first two articles have maintained a high level of
objectiveness. The last article has arguments for both
sides of the issue, but the author still tends to object to
the decriminalization of heroin.
The above mentioned articles are only a few examples of
writings which have appeared in the media in the last few
months. The issue of the decriminalization of heroin will
remain a controversy and will be disputed in the media for
a long time or until heroin is decriminalized.


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