Overdue NSW Government response to ice inquiry is disappointing

21st Sep 2022

With its refusal to decriminalise the personal use of drugs, the NSW Government has missed an important opportunity today to reduce drug use and save lives, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“It has been clear for a long time that the war on drugs has been lost. Personal drug use must be treated as a health and social issue, not as a criminal matter,” 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. Criminalising drug use just exacerbates these problems.

“It has been clear for many years that criminal and law enforcement responses to the use of illicit drugs are not working, and the NSW Government has just missed an opportunity to make a change that would have saved lives and minimised harm.

“It is very disappointing that, in its long overdue response, the NSW Government has rejected so many of the recommendations made in the report. This report

“Evidence is available from programs around the world to give us confidence that, in NSW, we can safely reform our approach to drug use and possession. Studies show that decriminalising or legalising drugs does not increase use but instead allows an increased focus on health and social support for users.

“NSW could have emulated the success of Portugal which, for over two decades, has had a policy of decriminalising personal drug use.That nation has lower rates of drug use and drug deaths, and the proportion of prisoners sentenced for offences is well below the average for the EU.

“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.”


Tags: NSW Decriminalisation Law reform drugs