NSW might finally be moving towards decriminalising certain illicit drugs, according to a report by 7 News.
A new plan, which was reportedly endorsed by the cabinet on Monday, will see people caught with small amounts of illicit drugs given warnings before being charged.
Under the plan, people will receive a warning on the first time they’re caught. On the second and third times, they’ll cop a fine.
If they’re caught for a fourth time within a year of being caught the first time, then they’ll get charged with possession.
“This is a game changer and the beginning of drug use being treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one here in NSW,” Cate Faehrmann, a state Greens MP and the party’s drug law reform spokesperson, said in a statement.
“Young people have been harassed for too long in NSW for simply doing something that almost half of us have done in our lifetimes, and that is use an illegal drug.
“With one in six Australian adults having used an illicit drug in the past year, it’s clear that the war on drugs has failed.”
Meanwhile, fellow state Greens MP and the party’s justice spokesperson David Shoebridge (who is also a driving force behind Sniff Off) called the proposed changes “a victory for common sense” that would mean the police can spend their time fighting actual, serious crime.
“These are modest changes, far from full decriminalisation, but if they do become law they will reduce unnecessary and aggressive policing of minor drug offences,” he said.
This comes after YEARS of campaigning against the invasive strip search and drug dog programs from so many people
— David Shoebridge (@DavidShoebridge) December 2, 2020
Drug reform is more about our choice to get high. It’s also about justice, especially given that drug charges disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, whereas it’s more common for white people to be let off with warnings.
The changes could also impact strip searching, particularly of young people at festivals.
While it wouldn’t necessarily be legal to have a small amount of drugs for personal use on you, being caught for the first time won’t justify a criminal charge, either.
It’s believed the law will apply to all illicit drugs, however the exact quantities remain to be seen.
According to 7 News, a few state government ministers aren’t too keen on the plan, but it still has the government’s support overall.
But for now, it’s all just leaked info and well-informed speculation. An official announcement on the matter is expected to come sometime in the next few weeks.