Media Release 20 March 2017
Leader of the Australian Sex Party and Victorian MP Fiona Patten welcomes the view of senior police, prison, parole administrators, judges, prosecutors and drug law researchers that Australia should progress “incrementally towards decriminalisation of drug use and regulation and, where possible, taxation of psychoactive drug supply.”
“It’s time Australia listened to the experts,” said Ms Patten.
The view is put forward in the Australia 21 report: Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?
In stark contrast, the Victorian Government has recently moved to criminalise psychoactive substances in a similar manner attempted by New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia – which has been largely unsuccessful.
“Rather than pushing through kneejerk legislation, the Premier and Police Minister should read what the experts have to say, consider it and respond,” said Ms Patten.
“The Government supported the widest ranging inquiry ever into drug law reform that I initiated. Why not let the inquiry run its course and make evidence based decisions from that?”
Specific measures endorsed by the report are taxing and regulating cannabis, trials for pill testing as well as “the need for more Medically Supervised Injecting Centres.”
The report’s views echo policy statements Ms Patten has been making for years.
“Every time I have put forward a policy, I am met with the line ‘what would police say?’ Well here is what the police, prosecutors and judges say: treat drug use as a medical issue, not a criminal one.”
The report candidly explains why drug law reform is difficult, with one participant quoted in the report pointing out, “there is only one way in which [current] policy really does work and that is politically.”
Ms Patten agreed: “Criminals and politicians are the only people benefiting from current drug policy. Just look at the pilot of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre that I proposed, which would free up police resources and ensure better amenity for residents. The only people opposed are politicians, because they think it will help them politically.
“It’s time to put slogans aside and actually work on a solution. This report provides a fantastic blueprint for change. The government should take the time to read it and respond.”
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