Probing the polls: street cat struts and de-criminalising drugs

Genevieve Jacobs 16 December 2020 12
A large quantity of volatile chemicals

Volatile chemicals used in a makeshift drug lab in Higgins. Photo: File.

Soft hearts for stray moggies notwithstanding, it looks like most of you don’t think that keeping cats in their street colonies is a good idea.

Region Media spoke to the Street Cat Alliance last week and the story stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy as readers argued over the charity’s advocacy for TNR, a North American approach where cats are de-sexed, given veterinary care, returned to colonies and regularly fed. The Alliance says this prevents them from hunting for food.

But the RSPCA and ACT Government both reject the approach, arguing that the risks to Australian wildlife, particularly in the bush capital, are substantially greater than those posed by urban cats in US cities.


READ ALSO: These cats aren’t feral, says the Street Cat Alliance, just misunderstood


We asked, Should we care for stray cats in their street colonies? A total of 786 readers voted.

Your options were to vote Yes, they can be handled responsibly and given a chance. Around 35 per cent of readers, or 274 people, voted for this option. Alternatively you could vote No, the risks to wildlife are catastrophic and not worth it. This attracted 65 per cent of votes, or 512 in total.

This week, we’re wondering about MLA Michael Pettersson’s bill to decriminalise personal possession of small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and MDMA. Canberrans caught with personal possession amounts of the drugs could receive a small fine instead of a potential two years in jail.

The limits would be 2 grams for cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, methadone and methylamphetamine, 0.5 grams for MDMA and smaller limits for acid and LSD.


READ ALSO: Pettersson puts cocaine, heroin, MDMA decriminalisation on the agenda


The National Drug Strategy Household Survey revealed that the most supported course of action for people caught with small amounts of drugs was a referral to a treatment or education program. But some readers thought otherwise.

Mathew Mendo wrote: “May as well be inviting junkies to Canberra. It’s not like crime along the lines of car theft and break-ins isn’t already on the increase”, while Nathan Lofthouse wrote “I see an unaddressed underlying issue in that unless the cost of the drugs themselves becomes more affordable the level of criminal activity engaged in to support habits isn’t likely to change. We don’t hear much about drug usage without criminal activity to support it”.

But Kylee Taylor wrote: “Let’s look at the evidence and other countries who have done extremely well in this area. Look at Portugal, they’re the world leaders. (Just because it’s decriminalised doesn’t mean everyone needs to start using it. But it does open up better avenues for getting them help)”.

Our question is:

Should we decriminalise possessing small quantities of heroin, cocaine and MDMA?

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12 Responses to Probing the polls: street cat struts and de-criminalising drugs
David Hennessy David Hennessy 11:24 am 19 Dec 20

Netherlands has tried this and is slowly going back to banning most things because of the industrial scale drug trafficking that then brought major harm to the community. Not judging. Just one example.

    Peter Wigley Peter Wigley 7:12 pm 21 Dec 20

    Dig a little deeper David. There is ample evidence that decriminalisation is a better option for everyone except the drug dealers. It should be treated as a medical problem not a legal problem, that way the massive profits and societal disadvantages can be minimised while ensuing people's lives are not destroyed.

Odette Gibbs Odette Gibbs 11:31 pm 18 Dec 20

Portugal has shown decriminalisation works in reducing harms and even reducing overall drug use. Let's do what works. Jail time for possession of small quantities of substances for personal use is absurd, and an enormous waste of taxpayer resources.

    Chris Moore Chris Moore 7:19 am 20 Dec 20

    Odette Gibbs you have to do the outreach programs as well, that is why it worked so well in Portugal as well.

    Odette Gibbs Odette Gibbs 10:13 am 20 Dec 20

    Well we should! If we are actually concerned about citizen wellbeing over the virtue signalling BS of uselessly draconian measures.

rsm1105 rsm1105 9:44 am 18 Dec 20

What are the health risks for an under 40 taking heroin, mdma v. the health risk risk from COVID?

We are happy to lockdown the later but not the former?

As a society, we have lost our minds.

    rfc rfc 3:42 pm 18 Dec 20

    Totally agree and a good analogy.

    And also, those who do take drugs will loose their minds as well.

Katy Did Katy Did 9:36 am 18 Dec 20

I don’t care but it will have consequences both known and unknown including many addicts heading to Canberra, increased homelessness and petty crime. It seems the ACT Government learnt nothing from their anxiety to give ‘bikies’ all their human rights and allow freedom of association.

Unfortunately they forget all about the general population and their right to be free of gun crime, shootings in the street and drug crimes

    Matt Donnelly Matt Donnelly 11:26 am 18 Dec 20

    Katy Did only cares about the rights she values.

    Katy Did Katy Did 1:44 pm 18 Dec 20

    Matt Donnelly Just saying that you can’t trample the rights of others

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:33 am 18 Dec 20

Nooooo.... why encourage it. 😕

    Shane Phoenix Shane Phoenix 11:58 am 18 Dec 20

    Doesn't encourage anything. If anything one of the things it would encourage is safer usage habits, as discovered in NSW enquiry.

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