October 2020 Guest speaker, Bill Bush, Families & Friends for Drug Law Reform

Families and Friends for Drug law Reform began in March 1995 following the death by overdose of 8 young people in Canberra. Following contact with Michael Moore, then Independent Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, a meeting was called to include families who had been affected. Forty people attended this first meeting which was the beginning of FFDLR. All in attendance believed that the drug laws were more the problem than the solution and called for change. They wanted laws and policies that caused less harm. They wanted addiction to be treated as a health and social issue not a law enforcement one. They believed that the huge profits made by the illegal trade made drugs more available to their kids.

One of the first successes of this group was influencing the non-attendance of police at overdoses unless violence or death were involved. This meant that friends would not be afraid of police involvement and were more likely to call an ambulance if a friend was in trouble. [from FFDLR website]

Bill has been with this organisation for some time, and spoke on the topic of “Why Drug Law Reform?” He outlined the history of the group and the many campaigns they have undertaken to reform our outdated and ineffective drug laws. He provided much data and information about the history of illicit drug taking, and the impact of newer drugs on the mental health of users. He outlined the programs that have been successfully implemented in more progressive countries – ones that Australia could learn from.

Jane thanked Bill for his presentation and presented him with a VR coffee mug in appreciation.

A postscript: A week after Bill’s talk the FFDLR’s 25th annual remembrance ceremony was held at Weston Park, under the flowering black locust tree which is a symbol of hope.

A second postscript: Two years later in October 2022, it was reported that the ACT government had decriminalised possession of small amounts of commonly used illicit drugs, becoming the first jurisdiction to do so in the country.