I AM writing about the debate sparked by Australia21's The Prohibition of Illicit Drugs is Killing and Criminalising our Children and We are Letting it Happen report.
It clearly says Australia's war on drugs is a failure and drugs should be decriminalised.
I have years of experience with young people who have faced the challenges of drug abuse.
The drug and alcohol rehabilitation services within Youth Off The Streets prove that some young people do want to fight their own war against the drugs that have become their lives.
The effects of drugs on a young person can be irreversible.
Media about the report speaks about marijuana as a soft drug, but my experience is that this drug can have terrible effects which can lead to mental illness.
Young people who use this drug heavily when they are 13 or 14, often develop schizophrenia or paranoia by the time they reach the age of 17 or 18.
For years, Australia has faced the issues of drugs, including their effects on our youth. There has been no solution offered about how to slash the use of this drug.
We should be talking to the community about the ways we can manage the situation better.
I would be happy to have the conversation about removing the criminal element of drug use � and I believe jail should not be seen as the solution to managing this problem.
It concerns me that 75 per cent of the government's financial commitment is being used to catch drug users and traffickers and to put them in jail.
This money should be spent on rehabilitation and drug and alcohol programs that can help our young people overcome the risks of using such drugs.
The government should be serious about funding these programs rather than wasting its money on locking young people in jail cells.
FATHER CHRIS RILEY,
Youth Off The Streets