Media Releases

Sex Party Says Call Off the Dogs

The Australian Sex Party has called on NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scippione, to call off the sniffer dogs at this weekend's Defqon1 music festival in Sydney.

Last year, a young Melbourne man died after he took three ecstasy pills after seeing a police sniffer dog operating at the Defqon1 gate. Australian Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said the young man’s death was completely avoidable and that sniffer dogs are known to cause people to overdose rather than get caught. “Young people take drugs at festivals and they generally have a good time, without any serious negative health consequences,” she said. “People are generally aware of the risks involved with their substances and will not do silly things like take everything at once. But then they see the dogs at the gate and they freak out. Sniffer dogs cause more deaths than not having them”.

In 2006 the NSW Ombudsman released the results on a two year extensive inquiry into sniffer dogs, which concluded, “The use of drug detection dogs in general drug detection operations does not significantly assist police in targeting drug suppliers… There is little or no evidence to support claims that drug detection dog operations deter drug use, reduce drug-related crime, or increase perceptions of public safety. Further, criticisms of the cost-effectiveness of general drug detection operations appear to be well founded.”

The use of sniffer dogs in society is expanding. The Victorian Government has recently said it will expand its 'Passive Alert Detection' dog program. “There are major concerns around the number of people searched and sometimes strip searched, without any drugs being detected”, she said. “No one is talking about the dangerous consumer behaviour that results from people swallowing large quantities of drugs when they see PAD dogs operating”.

In 2010, 15,779 searches were conducted in NSW, with 4085 people found with drugs. This gives a false positive rate of 74%. Similarly, the NSW Ombudsman report notes that between 2002 and 2004, with 10,211 people searched, only 2664 people were found with drugs. This again shows a false positive rate of 74%.

NSW harm reduction organisation Unharm is seeking to engage with police to find better ways to address drug-related harms at Defqon1 in Sydney this weekend.

Join their Facebook event here.

NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) media release on Defqon1 and sniffer dogs.

Ice Freezes Good Drug Policy

The Australian Sex Party support the reduction of harms associated with drug abuse and the implementation and funding of services and policy options that are informed by evidence.

The release of the final report into the 'Inquiry into the Supply and Use of Methamphetamines, particularly 'Ice', in Victoria' is a welcome look into drug abuse issues in Victoria and options to address these. However, the Victorian Government's announcement of expanding the sniffer dog program has raised concerns for its focus on punishing users, rather than allocating the funding to vital harm reduction and support services across the state.

Overall usage of methamphetamine has been stable for the last decade. President of the Australian Sex Party Fiona Patten said, “There is no ice epidemic. At least, not according to the data. Rather than spending more money on punishing users and scare campaigns, we should be putting that money into treatment services and harm reduction.”

Health incidents involving methamphetamine have increased slightly over the past three years. There are many reasons that this is the case but an epidemic of use is not one of them.

“Methamphetamine is not the boogey man it's made out to be, but people certainly do develop substance abuse problems and we need to help them,” said Australian Sex Party president Fiona Patten.

Despite a lack of evidence1 2 surrounding the efficacy of drug detection dog programs like Victoria's PAD program, Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells said that Victoria's Passive Alert Detection dog program has, “proven itself an efficient and effective part of the Victoria Police Force,” in a media release announcing 11 new PAD dogs to, “crack down on ice and drug use.”

Fiona Patten said there are major concerns around the number of people searched and sometimes strip searched without any drug detection and concerns around dangerous consumer behaviour when PAD dogs are operating. “It's disappointing to see both major parties opting for a crime and punishment approach to tackle this issue, after decades of evidence showing this method causes more problems,” Ms. Patten notes that with an overall goal of reducing the harms resulting from drug abuse, the Australian Sex Party are calling for an immediate cessation of the PAD program where it does not achieve its goals of reducing overall drug use or the harms associated with drug abuse.

The Australian Sex Party support strengthening Victoria's alcohol and drug organisations to tackle substance abuse problems broadly through increases to funding. View our drug policy for Victoria's 2014 election.  Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association executive officer Sam Biondo noted, “We have been calling for an established body such as a commission to oversee the review of evidence and data, and provide guidance in the development of policy for alcohol and other drug policy for a long time.  Given that methamphetamine use is almost always accompanied by other drugs, this type of body would be well placed to deal with the complexity of social, legal and health issues impacting the Victorian community.”

The Australian Sex Party are running candidates across Lower and Upper House seats in Victoria's November election. The party supports evidence informed drug policy that is relatively free of serious side-effects and is cost-effective.


1 'Do drug dogs deter use?'http://monicabarratt.net/?p=51

2 'How Reliable Are Sniffing Dogs?'http://www.science20.com/gerhard_adam/how_reliable_are_sniffing_dogs-95956

Spend Chaplaincy Budget on Sex and Relationship Education: Sex Party

Following yesterday’s announcement by the federal government that it will ask the states to administer their own chaplaincy budgets, the Australian Sex Party has challenged both the Victorian Liberal and Labor parties to channel the funds into sex and relationship education for students instead.

In 2010 The Victorian Treasury costed the Sex Party's sex education policy and found that for as little as $6million, a sex education curriculum could be provided to all schools for four years.

Sex Party President and Upper House candidate for the upcoming state election, Fiona Patten, said that the High Court had made a decision on chaplains which happened to oppose the personal religious beliefs of the Prime Minister. “Like a man possessed, he is now seeking out any avenue to impose his religious beliefs on the nation’s school children”, she said. “By any reasonable account this is just religious indoctrination disguised as pastoral care”.

Ms Patten said that school children would be much better served in their adult lives by learning how to have a safe and informed sex life and a better background in creating a loving relationship, than they would by learning about religion. “The High Court found that what the federal government was proposing was unconstitutional and affirmed that Australia does have some constitutional separation of church and state”, she said. 

She called for mandatory, comprehensive sex education, focusing in early years on issues of safety, body image and self esteem through initiatives in later years aimed at reducing STIs and teen pregnancy. The Sex Party is pushing for comprehensive educational reforms aimed at promoting ethics and political education, replacing chaplains with qualified counseling and psychology professionals, requiring private schools which receive public funding to abide strictly by anti-discrimination legislation, and giving more power to schools to respond to the specific needs of their communities.

The federal government is trying to give hundreds of millions of dollars to inculcate Christian religious values in schools and we're leaving behind notions of civics, ethics, teaching democratic values -- even things as basic as how the government works”.

Sex Party to Give Evidence at Tomorrow’s Senate Committee Hearings on Drugs

Australian Sex Party President and Upper House candidate for the coming Victorian election, Fiona Patten, will give evidence to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee meeting in Melbourne tomorrow.

Read more: Sex Party to Give Evidence at Tomorrow’s Senate Committee Hearings on Drugs

Sex Party calls for action not promises on HIV and the law

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian Health Minister to reconsider his announcement and repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act that makes it an offence to intentionally cause a serious disease (with HIV exclusively defined as a serious disease).

Party president Fiona Patten said that the section of the Act in question was introduced exclusively to address a fear of HIV infection 21 years ago. “To remove the stigma of this discriminatory and ineffective regulation it must be removed in its entirety”, she said. “UN AIDS has stated that criminalisation of HIV does not lead to positive outcomes for the community and adversely affects people living with and without HIV.

"In Victoria we know that using Criminal law as a public health tool doesn't work. In part it is the reason we changed our Prostitution Laws in Victoria. It is the reason that we did not outlaw syringes here but provided needle exchanges instead. It is why Australia is recognised as a world leader in fighting HIV”.

The Sex Party is also concerned that amendments may lead to criminalising more people who have other "serious" diseases such as Hepatitis C, HPV and Clamydia, all of which can lead to terminal illnesses.

Ms Patten said the minister had placed no timetable on changing the law.

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian parliament to introduce legislation to repeal Section 19a of the Crimes Act by the end of the week.

“Wouldn't it be a brilliant finish to the conference if the host, Victoria, actually acted on the conference's recommendations instead of making promises to”?

Cassie Batten Fronts Police and DOCS Over Medical Cannabis

Cassie Batten, the mother of three year old Victorian boy Cooper Batten, has been keeping him alive with the help of very low doses of tincture of medical cannabis/cannabinoids. Today police ordered her to attend the local police station to answer questions about her illegal use of the product and told her that DOCS would be in attendance as well. Ms Batten is concerned that her severely disabled little boy will be taken away from her over the use of medical cannabis/cannabinoids.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten was contacted by Ms Batten this afternoon in a distressed state. She said that police confiscated two bottles of tincture but had left one for treatment to continue.

Ms Patten has written an urgent email to Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge asking her to intervene and to guarantee that Cooper will still receive the medical cannabis that keeps him seizure-free and that he and his mother will be allowed to go home together.

“It is an outrageous situation that a loving mother who is keeping her son alive in this way is today being subjected to police prosecution and possibly losing her son to DOCS”, she said. “All state governments need to immediately institute some form of amnesty on prosecution for the many people using medical cannabis and cannabinoids”.

New Federal Drug Laws Kick Start Australian Drug Production

Today’s announcement by the Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, that all new psychoactive substances (NPS) will be prohibited from import unless importers can prove they have a legitimate use, will see the creation of hundreds of mobile drug labs and secret production houses start up around the country.

Sex Party President and Eros CEO, Fiona Patten, said the Minister’s media release was very thin on detail. “Will the bans be based on pharmacological mimicry (like Qld and SA) or on psychoactivity (like NSW)?. If based on ‘mimicry’, then will they only apply to LSD, MDMA and cannabis as suggested in the new laws (ie sertonergics and cannabinomimetics) or also to other drugs like GHB, amphetamine etc (ie GABAergics, adrenergics, etc)?

She said that the new laws would radically change the supply chain for NPS in Australia. “Bans on imports do nothing to address the desire and the market for drugs at home” she said. “If they can no longer be bought in from overseas, there are plenty of chemistry graduates who have the know-how to produce these new synthetic psychoactive substances within Australia. The federal government may have just inadvertently opened the door to a massive new drug problem”.

Ms Patten said that regulation would be far more effective in controlling NPS and cited the release of new statistics by the New Zealand Star Trust group last week that showed that during 2013, while it was legal to sell approximately 30 NPS in that country, illicit drug offences declined by 22.7%. Paul Glue, head of psychological medicine at Dunedin School of Medicine (NZ) said that “Since the Bill was enacted, we have seen fewer hospital admissions and emergency presentations associated with the use of synthetics”.

During 2013 there were no recorded deaths from NPS in NZ at the same time as 3,764 people died from tobacco use. The New Zealand government collected $42 million in taxes from the sale of regulated NPS and 3.5 million packets were sold. There were 12 positive media stories and 2,843 negative ones on the topic during 2013.

Ms Patten said the proposed regulatory regime invested unworkable powers with the ACBPS to determine if a substance had a ‘legitimate use’ and that it was unfair to allow the agency that seized the NPS in the first place to then consider whether or not that decision had been correct. “Many common herbs like Damiana have a psychoactive effect”, she said. “Will they be banned? And what is a ‘legitimate use’ anyway? Is the importation of a weak NPS as a healthier substitute for tobacco or alcohol, a ‘legitimate use’?

Ms Patten said Australia was about to break into the scenarios and storylines of the highest rated TV show of all time – Breaking Bad. On one level the TV show was a ‘morality play’ about a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turns to a life of crime producing methamphetamine from a mobile laboratory in the form of a caravan, in order to ensure his family is looked after when he is gone. On another level, the program offers policy makers a compelling and fascinating account of how the prohibition of the new illicit drugs makes organized crime rich and casts misery on average families. Ms Patten strongly advised policy makers to watch the first series before escalating any prohibition on illicit drugs.

She said the negative impacts and dangers of NPS had been overstated in the Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement with little or no evidence produced. There had been little research done on the actual health impact of NPS. On this note she said she was concerned that the Alcohol and Drug sector had not been consulted and possibly were not aware of the RIS.

“The size of the market for synthetic cannabinoid-type products alone is estimated at more than $600 million in Australia”, she said. “If other NPS and individual purchases made via the internet are included, then that figure could be as much as a billion dollars. Considering the size of the market for these products it must be assumed that the vast majority of consumers do not suffer any significant negative health effects.”

Ms Patten said that the solution to the emergence of the New Psychoactive Substances was to legalise an old one – cannabis.

Sex Party To Hand Out Free Pills: Support. Don't Punish

Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities tomorrow to expose the harm that drug laws cause via health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.

Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions are varied – from public gatherings, street art and dance displays, music concerts, public meetings and workshops, boat shows, social media campaigns, and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.

The Australian Sex Party will hand out 'safe' druggie bags at major railway stations in Melbourne before unveiling a revised drug policy. This includes a call to establish safe medically supervised injecting facilities in Melbourne and implement better harm reduction services in Victoria's prisons. The party is also calling for decriminalisation of the posession and use of all currently illicit drugs.

Tomorrow is the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This day is used by many governments to celebrate the war on drugs, to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been used in the past for public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.

The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.

The campaign was organised by a coalition of NGOs calling on governments to put an end to the expensive and counter-productive war on drugs. According to estimates, the drug war costs in excess of $100 billion annually to enforce and has failed to reduce drug markets or drug use.

The list of high-profile figures calling for the end of this war on drugs is growing fast: President José Mujica of Uruguay, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, Brad Pitt, Sir Richard Branson, Kofi Annan and Russell Brand to name a few.

“During 2012 to 2013, 7,037 Victorians had a recorded offence for cannabis possession,” notes Australian Sex Party president, Fiona Patten. “There are 4,915 Victorians with a recorded offence for possessing an amphetamine-type stimulant, including the relatively harmless popular party drug, MDMA. The vast majority of these will be non-problematic pot smokers and party goers who shouldn't be punished for using their drug of choice. And for those who do have a problem, the police should be the last people sent in to assist.”

The “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign is a global initiative supported by more than 100 NGOs around the world. It calls for investments in proven effective and cost-effective harm reduction responses for people who use drugs, and for the decriminalization of people who use drugs and the removal of other laws that impede public health services. For more information and resources about the campaign, visit www.supportdontpunish.org and http://supportdontpunish.org/day-of-action-2014/

Look out for volunteers from the Australian Sex Party and supporters on Thursday morning at CBD train stations wearing the 'Support Don't Punish' T-shirts and pick up your extra special gift. Visit the Australian Sex Party's webpage for more information on the party and its policies. http://www.sexparty.org.au

EVENT DETAILS:

7:30am – 9am & 5pm – 6:30pm - Melbourne CBD train stations https://www.facebook.com/events/1493869254180457/

Melbourne Movie Premier

The Australian Sex Party is helping to bring the movie Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines to Melbourne. Following the movie, Fiona Patten will join other panelists to discuss issues raised in the film.

“The film looks into five currently illegal drugs and their therapeutic potential,” said Ms. Patten. “These are drugs that have been historically condemned despite having a therapeutic potential. It's only been in the past decade that this potential is being explored and we're seeing promising results elsewhere in the world.”

Neurons to Nirvana will screen at the Village Theaterette, State Library of Victoria on Tuesday the 29th and Wednesday the 30th of April. Sales from the event will help raise money for the Australian organisation, Psychedelic Research in Science and Medicine (PRISM). PRISM are looking to research the effects of treating post-traumatic stress disorder with MDMA. Studies overseas have proved very promising.

“Since Australia first became engaged with the war in Afghanistan, there's been a fourfold increase in PTSD cases among returning veterans. MDMA assisted psychotherapy has shown itself to be very useful for many treatment resistant soldiers over in the U.S. Australian soldiers may be able to benefit from this type of treatment too and we have a responsibility to allow this avenue to be explored,” said Ms. Patten.

Other panelists include PRISM's Martin Williams and Steve Bright, Tim Payne from Entheogenesis Australis (EGA) and Steph Tzanetis from Harm Reduction Victoria & DanceWize.

Tickets are $24 or $18 for students, concession and pensioners and can be bought at http://www.entheo.net For media inquiries or interviews, please contact: Fiona Patten  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or Nick Wallis  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Refer Cannabis Industry to Productivity Commission: Sex Party

The Australian Sex Party wants the Productivity Commission to examine the total economic effect of legalising and regulating all forms of Cannabis, as well as the hemp industry.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten said that apart from raising an estimated $1 - $2 billion a year from legalising and taxing marijuana, the potential bonanza from hemp products in the market place was not well understood in government.

The hemp industry last week announced their fight to have HEMP foods legally recognised. This industry already generates $13 million in trade for Australia. It is estimated that the demand for hemp food products will quadruple this year if they get approval. Hemp farming also uses much less water than cotton and could remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.[1]

In the U.S., Colorado is expecting to bring in $578 million from its new legal cannabis industry, including $67 million in tax revenue.[2] Legal cannabis comes into effect later this year in Washington state. There are currently recreational legalisation Bills in 11 states, decriminalisation in five states and medical marijuana in three states.[3]

Ms Patten said that Australia had followed US drug policy for many years but was not keeping up with the current trends. ‘We risk losing a great economic advantage by not following the US and New Zealand in their approaches to drugs’, she said. ‘The various varieties of the cannabis plant have many uses, ranging from industrial to foodstuffs and from recreational to medicinal uses.’

Read more: Refer Cannabis Industry to Productivity Commission: Sex Party