Former PM John Howard speaks at a police training day in the Tweed.
Former PM John Howard speaks at a police training day in the Tweed. Rick Koenig

Former PM says no to legalising drugs

FORMER Australian prime minister John Howard says he disagrees with decriminalising drugs and believes there is a "strong link” between marijuana use and mental health issues.

Speaking at a police training day in the Tweed, the four-term prime minister was asked about his administration's war on drugs, which was renowned for being tough on drug use.

"I instinctively don't think the answer is to legalise everything, and that's my instinct, I could be wrong, there are probably a lot of people that disagree with me,” he said.

"I don't think the evidence that's come forward in places such as the Netherlands and Uruguay which supports the proposition that widespread decriminalisation is the answer.

"All the evidence I've seen is there is a very strong cause and link between marijuana use and mental illness, I've just seen too many individual cases of that.

"I've known people who have lost children as a result of that and that's the most powerful evidence you can get.”

Mr Howard said his government focused on three priorities in tackling drug use including law enforcement, rehabilitation, and "keeping people out of the criminal justice system for as long as feasible”.

Mr Howard said he had not altered his views since he left Parliament and did not think there was ever going to be a clear winner in the war on drugs.

"I find it very hard to believe there isn't a cause and link between excessive recreational drug use and suicide, addiction and hard drug use,” he said.

"I don't think this is something that we'll ever be able to totally heal, I'd like to think so but I don't think it's going to happen.”

Mr Howard addressed officers from the Tweed Byron Police District and Queensland Police, focussing on mental strength and resilience in one of the community's toughest jobs.

He said his daily morning walks and ability to catnap had helped him survive for so long in the nation's top job.



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