Drug Law Reform

Initiated Australia’s largest public inquiry into drug law reform.

Australia’s current approach to illicit drugs policy is not working. Despite determined efforts by successive governments, prohibition based policy has been largely in-effective in reducing harm or the supply of drugs. Fiona Patten believes that we need to find a new way. Not only to reduce harm, but to reduce the impact of illicit drugs across the whole community.

Drug law reform should distinguish between high-end production and trafficking as a law enforcement matter, and use and personal possession as a health issue. Reducing the role of the criminal illicit drug market and the allocation sufficient funds to health and treatment options are fundamental to achieving this reform. This concept is not novel. We can be guided by other jurisdictions including New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, Colorado and Washington which already benefit from harm minimisation approaches.

Fiona Patten believes that we should progress towards the decriminalisation of drug use, regulation, and where possible, taxation of lawful drug supply. She is not alone in taking this policy position – former Police Commissioners, State Premiers and many others support this approach to drug reform.

It is for this reasons that Fiona Patten initiated the parliamentary inquiry into drug reform.

The cross-party law reform, road and community safety committee  released its Inquiry into drug law reform in March 2018 – the most comprehensive examinations of harm minimisation in Australian history.

Among the report’s 50 recommendations:

— The decriminalisation and regulation of personal recreational use of substances as the most effective way to reduce harm and to bring people with problems into the health system, rather than injecting them into the legal system.

— The establishment of an independent expert body to counsel governments on drug law. This would depoliticise an issue that has been to often manipulated for political advantage.

— Back-of-house pill testing at music festivals and other events. This would allow organisers and health professionals to warn patrons of danger and save young lives.

Read more about the inquiry report here: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lrrcsc/inquiry/421

Portugal decriminalised drugs 15 years ago. There’s been a decrease in drug use, crime, disease and overdoses since and it is that approach that Fiona Patten will continue to pursue for Victoria.

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