16 December 2020

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

| Genevieve Jacobs
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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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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.

Totally agree and a good analogy.

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

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