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Matters of Substance

Matters of Substance November 2012

Cover story


Thirty-seven years into the War on Drugs, the 2012 United Nations World Drug Report says the rate of reported cannabis use in Oceania (essentially Australia and New Zealand) is between 9.1–14.6 percent – the highest in the world. But its possession and use remain illegal. Hundreds of thousands of police hours and more than a $100m a year go into enforcing that. Is it worth it? With the government promising to overhaul drug law during this parliamentary term? Penny Mackay tried to find out.


Television: drug of the nation

When did you last see a popular television show that showed and explained what a double-blind trial actually was?

Early warning system

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! A new drug has emerged. Unlike Lost in Space, we don’t have an early warning system for emerging synthetic drugs. But we probably should.

Death in custody

Since 2000, over 10 intoxicated or high people have died in police custody. What’s going wrong, and what needs to be done?

A defence of death

Big Tobacco has launched a massive campaign to try and stymie the New Zealand Government’s plans to follow Australia in plain packaging of tobacco. They’re spending big bucks to put up a defence of death.


Directors Cut

Executive Director Ross Bell looks at argument for compassion in the case of Billy McKee, the head of GreenCrosswho was sentenced for cannabis supply.

Opinion — Myths and moderate drinking

Economist Eric Crampton on why maybe a drink a day does keep the doctor away.

Guest editorial — Commendation or condemnation

Harm Reduction International's Damon Barrett looks at how donor countries and the UNODC are giving Iran money to execute hundreds of drug mules, yet the west commends them for their anti-drug efforts.

Viewpoints — Should we roadside saliva test for cannabis?

Viewpoints investigates whether we should roadside test for cannabis. Is the technology there and can we prove inhibition?

Mythbusters — Alcohol helps us forget

Mythbusters takes a look at whether alcohol, the go to of many people in a crisis, will actually help you forget your problems

Q&A: Ray Smith

The head of the Department of Corrections, Ray Smith, is grilled by Matters of Substance over its alcohol, tobacco, and other drug policies.

About a drug: Psilocybin

Psilocybin, shrooms, teonanácatl, or plain old magic mushrooms. Find out the story of the funnest fungus.