The US government has a bad habit of forcing its failed drug policies on other nations. Dutch health officials have listed interference by the US government as their second largest policy problem. While this interference goes almost completely unreported in the US media, last October 23rd it made prime-0time TV in Australia. Four Corners, Australia's premier current affairs show, reported that the government was reconsidering plans to being a heroin maintenance trial program, because of threats from the US-dominated International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to retaliate against their legal opiates industry if the program commences.
The background is that the Australian province of Tasmania has a thriving industry in poppy growing; the industry contributes eighty million dollars to the fragile Tasmanian economy, and produces part of the world supply of legal opiates. The narcotics industry is subject to international treaty obligations, and according to Four Corners, "exists grace and favour of the INCB." Persons from the poppy industry have related that while they grow the crop with the consent of the INCB, there are people from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) keeping a very close eye on them.
A communique, sent from Australia's foreign affairs official in Vienna warned the government in Canberra of the strong possibility of economic retaliation should the heroin maintenance trials proceed. It reads, "We have to deal with the International Narcotics Control Board regularly and on an intimate level. Our concern is that they could make life difficult for us in our annual negotiations on poppy production. We see this as a real risk and one that should certainly be borne in mind when weighing up the overall pros and cons of the Trial.
Dr. Alex Wodak, an addictions scientist and proponent of harm reduction, stated "It wouldn't be difficult at all for somebody to say something in a corridor in Washington, no record of it at all, and the news would filter back to Canberra fairly quickly. Maybe an important trade deal, or maybe something else that could hurt us a great deal would be endangered by American action."