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National drug seizures continue to grow

AAP logoAAP 3/08/2016 By Michael Ramsey

Australia must stay the course on efforts to curb drug use despite new figures showing growing demand for illicit substances, the federal justice minister says.

Law officers made a record 105,862 drug seizures across Australia - weighing 23.5 tonnes - in 2014-15, the report released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission shows.

Authorities also racked up 133,926 arrests with more related to amphetamine-type stimulants, including ice, than ever before.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan says Australia's ever-increasing appetite for illicit drugs poses a significant challenge for state and federal governments.

But he insists there's no need for a radical change in thinking, including the removal of penalties for the use of some substances.

"We're not going to raise the white flag in this fight against drugs," Mr Keenan told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.

"We're going to continue to make sure that as few Australians as possible are impacted by the misery of drugs.

"Decriminalisation is absolutely not on the agenda."

Cannabis remained the most frequently-seized drug in Australia in 2014-15 while the number of heroin-related arrests fell to their lowest level in a decade.

Australia's isolation meant users continued to pay a premium for drugs which made it extremely attractive to criminal gangs across the world, Mr Keenan said.

He said there was a need to continue to educate Australians on the detrimental effects drug use could have on their physical and mental wellbeing.

"We are being very effective on the supply side," he said.

"We've got to work more on the demand side.

"Last year we did make the most significant investment in drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Australia's history and over time that multi-faceted approach will pay dividends."

ACIC chief Chris Dawson said the Illicit Drug Data Report presented the clearest snapshot yet on drug use in Australia after including results from wastewater analysis for the first time.

Authorities believed the analysis would provide a more precise measurement of substance abuse and could lead to a greater detection of clandestine drug labs.

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