Drug law reform in NSW will save lives: Proposed drug diversion program small step in the right direction

2nd Jun 2022

Reforming drug laws in NSW will save lives says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) in response to the Attorney-General’s proposal to trial a pre-court drug diversion program.

“Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s proposal is a small step in the right direction but there should be no fine, no police record – the person found in possession of drugs must simply be diverted into the health system with the support they need,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, criminal justice spokesperson, ALA.

“Drug use is complex, and is frequently linked to financial hardship, mental illness, poor educational opportunities, abuse and other social issues.  It has been clear for many years that criminal and law enforcement responses to the use of illicit drugs are not working.   

“It is disappointing that the government is taking so long to respond to the Ice Inquiry. Evidence is available from programs around the world to give us confidence that, in Australia, we can safely reform our approach to drug use and possession.

“Globally, there is increasing recognition of the need to keep non-violent drug users out of the criminal justice system and it is time that Australian laws reflected this awareness.

“As an example, in Canada, one province is about to trial decriminalising the possession of small amounts of drugs with the intention of reducing overdose deaths and encouraging people to seek help.

“The quicker we move from the current emphasis on law enforcement to a focus on the broader health and social issues associated with the harmful use of drugs, the more lives that can be saved.”

Tags: NSW Health, medicine and law drugs