CHANGES TO DRUG OFFENSES IN NSW.
People caught in NSW with illicit drugs for personal use would get a $400 fine or undergo health treatment instead of facing court.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman has put forward the proposal as part of the state government’s response to the Special Commission Of Inquiry Into The Drug “Ice”, which handed down 109 recommendations in 2020.
The Attorney-General says he supports trialling a “pre-court drug diversion” program that gives police the discretion to issue $400 fines to illicit drug users.
The penalties would be waived if the offender has health treatment that is referred to in the penalty notice. “Such a scheme would not be ‘soft’ on drug use,” Mr Speakman said. “$400 is more than the average penalty which a drug user will receive in court on a first offence.” Mr Speakman has suggested the offender would only get two infringement notices before facing court.
President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat said it was time for the government to implement a “health-focused approach” to battling drug abuse.
“The current prohibitionist approach is not working. We agree with law enforcement authorities who have said we can’t arrest our way out of drug problems,” Ms van der Plaat said.
“Any further delay on a meaningful response to the Ice Inquiry risks further criminalisation and demonisation of drug users who need rehabilitation, not incarceration.”
Mr Speakman said, “severe penalties for supply and trafficking would remain in place”.
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