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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Legislative Options for Cannabis - Australian Government



In this chapter we have discussed the two related fields of diversion and treatment for drug offenders. We believe that few people would disagree with the wisdom of diversion from the criminal justice system for minor cannabis offenders. Further, though some would object that treatment of drug offenders is a form of social control and that the concept of the 'need for treatment' has no inherent limitation, the evidence suggests that, although methodological problems exist in the evaluation of treatment programs, most of the programs outlined here have achieved a certain level of success in terms of meeting their objectives - which generally means, in the Australian context, reducing the drug use, and associated involvement with the criminal justice system, of the individual undergoing treatment.

Disagreement arises regarding the degree of intervention which should be exercised by the criminal justice system, as an agent of the State, in coercing drug offenders into treatment - in its most extreme form, through civil commitment. While the United States, for example, indicates considerable support for civil commitment, in Australia, although commitment exists as a legislative option, there has been reluctance to use it. This decision with respect to the balance between protecting society and infringing the rights of individuals is a matter for the particular society involved and the prevailing mores at the time.



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