Drug law reform

Australia’s ‘war on drugs’ is a fundamental failure. Drug misuse should be seen as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Decriminalising possession and use of most drugs will reduce the harm that they cause and take pressure off the criminal justice system. The experience of other countries has shown that this approach does not lead to an increase in drug use and often decreases the harm caused by it.

The ALA has developed a policy report, ‘Doing More Harm Than Good: The need for a health-focused approach to drug use’, and subsequent second edition ‘A Time for Change - Drug Policy Reform through a Social Development Lens’, that advocates for a policy shift away from an emphasis on law enforcement, to a focus on the broader health and social issues associated with the harmful use of drugs. The report calls for state and territory governments to abandon their policies of prohibition and criminalisation of substance abuse and embrace decriminalisation, with a focus on harm minimisation, and invest in public health and social services to address drug abuse and the associated social and health effects.

The report collates a wide range of evidence – from local and international experiences – to explain why drug law reform is needed, as supported by analyses of current policies and recent developments across Australia.

Click here to read the first report. Click here to read the second report.

Click here to read our media release.