National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

The National Drug Strategy 2010-2015

Pillar 2: Supply reduction

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Supply-reduction strategies are directed toward enforcing the prohibition of illegal drugs and regulating and enforcing access to legal drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and other drugs. In the case of illegal drugs, supply-reduction activities, including both border and domestic policing, extend to controlling the availability of precursor chemicals and equipment used for manufacturing drugs. It also extends to compliance with Australia’s obligations under international drug control treaties.

Reducing the supply of drugs requires the collaborative participation of all levels of government including law enforcement and the health sector (public and private), industry and regulatory authorities.

It also requires engaging the Australian community and their support for these strategies. The message must be clear that the supply and use of illegal drugs and the illegal supply and misuse of tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals and other legal drugs is not acceptable.

For alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and other legal drugs, government authorities, and community and business organisations need to collaborate to regulate access to these drugs based on community expectations and standards, and the costs and benefits of their use. For alcohol, this means that liquor licensing, planning authorities, local government, licensed venues and retailers need to be involved. Parents and families also have a role in reducing the supply of alcohol to minors. A wide range of businesses and retailers need to be involved in regulatory and collaborative approaches to reducing harms from alcohol.

For tobacco, the involvement of retailers is essential. For pharmaceutical drugs, doctors and pharmacists need to be consulted and involved in supply-reduction strategies to reduce pharmaceutical misuse. Retailers of other substances (such as inhalants) are essential partners in the regulation and enforcement of supply.

For illegal drugs, law enforcement strategies are needed which target all parts of the supply chain from actions aimed at preventing importation across the border to those that target the point of supply to consumers. The increasing prevalence in the use of the internet to facilitate the global supply of illegal drugs—particularly those marked as ‘party pills’ and ‘legal highs’—also needs to be considered in these strategies. Communities—not only in metropolitan areas but also in rural and remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities—have an important role to play in not tolerating illegal drug supply and helping law enforcement to combat this.

There is a strong connection between the supply of illegal drugs and the illegal supply of legal drugs because of the financial proceeds that arise from such activities. Therefore the disruption of organised crime and money laundering is an important component of any drug supply-reduction strategy. The disruption and dismantling of organised crime is a high priority for governments as reflected in the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework.

Objective 1: Reduce the supply of illegal drugs (both current and emergin)

Reducing the supply of illegal drugs requires activity at Australia’s borders to prevent and disrupt importations of illegal drugs and their precursors and within Australia to prevent cultivation, manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs. Legislative frameworks exist and require constant enforcement to ensure a reduction in the supply of illegal drugs.

These frameworks need to be supported by demand-reduction strategies which engage the health sector and community and raise awareness of the harms and consequences arising from illegal drug use.

Border activities are crucial in controlling the importation of illegal drugs and Australia must continue to develop strong international partnerships and help strengthen the capability of our international partners, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, to manage borders. It is important too that Australia continues to participate in international law enforcement activities, such as those coordinated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The illicit drug market is not only constrained by international borders. Information sharing and coordinated approaches are needed to stem the supply of illicit drugs at all stages from the supply chain from overseas suppliers, interception at the border (jurisdictional and international) and investigation and prosecution of domestic producers, manufacturers and suppliers.

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Objective 2: Control and manage the supply of alcohol, tobacco and other legal drugs

Supply reduction for alcohol, tobacco and other legal drugs involves activities targeted towards the regulation of legitimate supply and the detection and interruption of illegal markets.

Regulation of the sale of alcohol focuses on who can sell alcohol, to whom and when, by ensuring that alcohol is sold only to adults and only by licensed premises and liquor retailers. State, territory and local government regulations control these and other conditions of sale in the community, to minimise the negative social impact of alcohol. Licensees and hospitality workers have a responsibility for limiting supply to intoxicated people or removing them from licensed premises with the assistance of licensing inspectors and police. Parents, siblings, and friends are the main sources of supply of alcohol to young people and therefore have a key role to play in reducing access to alcohol by this group.

Similarly, age restrictions on tobacco sales need to be enforced and retailers and families have a responsibility to reduce access by young people. The illegal cultivation, sale and supply of tobacco and the importation and distribution of kava and khat exceeding the permitted amount require appropriate regulation and enforcement.

An emerging and challenging issue is the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs—including opioids, stimulants and performance- and image-enhancing drugs. An effective supply reduction response will require a collaborative cross-sectoral approach that balances the need to ensure the availability of these drugs for medicinal purposes while, at the same time, restricting illegal access and diversion to illegal drug markets. Legislative and regulatory frameworks exist and require constant monitoring to ensure they support the appropriate prescribing and supply of pharmaceutical drugs. These frameworks also need to be supported by demand-reduction strategies such as information and education campaigns that engage the health sector and community and serve to raise awareness of this issue.

For legal substances like inhalants (such as petrol, paint and glue) that are readily misused, a balance also needs to be found between access for legitimate purposes and regulation of supply. This balance needs to take account of the prevalence of misuse and the harms from these substances.

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