Australia: NSW attorney-general urges drug law pivot

Australia: NSW attorney-general urges drug law pivot
CANNANNEW REPORT

As reported in today’s Australian media The NSW attorney-general is urging reform of criminal penalties for drug users, saying the current approach is “clearly not working”. Attorney-General Mark Speakman is pushing for a pilot of a drug diversion program that would give police the discretion to hand people caught with drugs for personal use two $400 penalties, before forcing them into the courts. Mr Speakman defended the scheme after a report in the Daily Telegraph referred to it as “radical” and suggested it had been defeated in cabinet. The push comes after the NSW government ruled out five key recommendations from a 2020 inquiry into ice use, including decriminalising drugs found for personal use. “Illicit drugs can ruin the lives of users and those around them,” Mr Speakman told AAP in a statement on Thursday. “Sadly illicit drug use is widespread in our community; for example, statistics suggest that one in seven Australian men in their 20s have used cocaine in the last 12 months. “The current approach is clearly not working.” He said the first aim of any drug reform should be to slash illicit drug use, and the second should be to reduce harm. The pilot would give police the discretion to issue two $400 infringements, with those penalties waived if users undertook health interventions. “Such a scheme would not be ‘soft’ on drug use,” Mr Speakman said. The $400 fine was larger than the average one issued for first offenders in court, and the ice inquiry recommended a more generous three notices. “Such a scheme would be connecting drug users with appropriate health treatment,” Mr Speakman said. Infringement schemes were supported by former police commissioner Mick Fuller in his submission to the ice inquiry, and were also backed by former police commissioner Andrew Scipione. “This is hardly…

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