Although the media sporadically reports on major narcotic raids, the general consensus about the war on drugs is that small battles will not win this war. Despite all the money spent on drug enforcement worldwide, illicit drugs are still relatively cheap and widely available. Increasingly drugs are being viewed as a social problem rather than strictly a legal one.
So is it time to rethink traditional approaches to the illegal drug industry? Countries like Portugal and Argentina are forging ahead with drug reforms, but will Australia follow suit?
In this panel from the provocative Festival of Dangerous Ideas the argument is put forward that decriminalization and regulation would be the best solution to addressing the problems associated with drugs.
Greg Barns is an author, political commentator and barrister.
He was an advisor to NSW Premier Nick Greiner and also for the Howard Government. He is also a spokesperson for the Prison Action and Reform Group.
Michael Duffy is an Australian radio presenter and newspaper columnist. He presents the Counterpoint program on ABC Radio National.
He was originally hired in an attempt by Radio National management to find, in the words of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a "right-wing Phillip Adams."
Norm Stamper is the former Chief of the Seattle Police Department.
He is an advisory board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing.
Dr. Alex Wodak is the Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.
He is also President of the International Harm Reduction Association and the author of Drug Prohibition: A Call for Change.
Physician Alex Wodak discusses reforming the war on drugs, including legalizing marijuana and repealing criminal penalties for personal possession and consumption. He says the focus of drug reform should be on harm reduction, not prosecution.