Calls have been made by the Special Counsel assisting the Ice Inquiry to decriminalise all drugs.'
Calls have been made by the Special Counsel assisting the Ice Inquiry to decriminalise all drugs.' Wikicommons

'Drugs are harmful because they are illegal'

A GREENS MP says Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been served a wake-up call on drug use in NSW.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann says the NSW Government must act on calls made by the 'Special Counsel assisting the Ice Inquiry to decriminalise all drugs.' 

The counsel has recommended the decriminalising of personal drug use and possession. 

It also called for drug testing trials at music festivals as part of 104 recommendations to be handed down by Sally Dowling SC.

Other recommendations include: 

  • Formation of a 'whole-of-government alcohol and drug policy recognising the use of drugs is 'a health and social issue'
  • Decriminalising of drug possession of all illicit drugs in NSW
  • The banning of ice pipes in NSW
  • Removal of drug sniffer dogs at music festivals
  • Restricting the use of police drug body strip searches 
  • Greater drug education focussing on harm in schools
  • A pilot needle and syringe program in correctional centres 
  • NSW Police collection of data on whether drug use features in a criminal offences
  • Appointment of a dedicated minister to a drug and alcohol portfolio
  • Greater investment in drug and alcohol health services 

Following, new of the recommendations, The Greens spokesperson for drug law reform & harm reduction this morning gave notice of her intention to introduce legislation into the NSW Parliament in the first half of next year to decriminalise all drugs.

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"This call for decriminalisation by some of NSW's best legal minds is just the latest in a long line of experts calling on the Premier to adopt an evidence-based approach to drug policy to reduce harm and save lives," Ms Faehrmann said.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann.

"We know the war on drugs has failed. Even the NSW Crime Commission has acknowledged that while seizures and arrests have increased this has had little to no effect on the availability of prohibited drugs.

She said governments can't stop people taking drugs, but it could ensure far fewer people die from them. 

"Treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one means decriminalising all drugs ensuring people are able to seek help when they need it without the fear of retribution. It also means pill testing and getting rid of sniffer dogs," Ms Faehrmann said.

"Countries which have adopted a health based approach to drug use have seen drug related harms plummet and have been able to divert police resources towards serious crimes.

Source: The Australian Drug Foundation.
Source: The Australian Drug Foundation.

"When will the premier finally acknowledge the overwhelming evidence in front of her that the war on drugs has failed and that the greatest harms associated with drugs are because they are illegal?" 

The Commission was established by the Premier in November last year. 

When asked about a link between overdoses and policing methods including drug sniffer dogs and body searches at music festivals Gladys Berejiklian responded: 

"We want to get the balance right, we want people to enjoy themselves, we want those festivals to continue and increase in number, but we also need to ensure lives are not lost when that could be prevented," Ms Berejiklian said. 

"And the strongest message to anybody is don't take illegal substances, they're illegal for a reason."

Findings are due to be handed down in January.


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