If re-elected at the 26 November Victorian election, I am determined to continue to lead community debate on sensible drug law reform and on harm minimisation.
Reason Party’s drug law reform policies will save many thousands of lives and many millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
I often say we should not let the perfect get in the way of the good as we mount the cases for change, as we fight for progress. There is a lot of good progress overdue on this.
It is disappointing – indeed unacceptable – that the Victorian Government has failed to meet its duty to respond within six months to the Parliament’s official inquiry into the use of cannabis in Victoria.
We need a second medically supervised injecting centre, this one in the CBD.
Evidence from the first one, opened in North Richmond in 2018, shows hundreds of people have been kept safe, rather than needlessly dying in laneways. More should be trialled elsewhere in Victoria.
More and more countries and jurisdictions are decriminalising drugs. Not to encourage their use, but to reduce the harm they cause individuals and communities by treating drugs as a health issue, not a criminal one.
Some other key elements and details of Reason Party’s drug law reform platform include:
- Reforming laws to allow front-of-house drug checking (‘pill testing’) facilities in areas of need, including music festivals and other events.
- Legalisation of electronic vaporisers and liquid nicotine as recognised treatments for smoking.
- Decriminalisation of the use and possession of all drugs, harm-reduction, and improved access to healthcare – especially services targeted at early intervention.
- The creation of a regulated legal market for adult use of cannabis.
- Increasing the number of opiate treatment program (OTP) prescribers and subsidising dispensing fees for OTP medicines.
- More Overdose Prevention Centres (medically supervised injecting centres).
- Trials of the safe supply of hydromorphone as part of the OTP.
- Reform to electronic vaporiser and liquid nicotine access schemes to reduce complexity for prescribers and individuals and protecting children.
- Multiple fixed-site pill testing.
- Amending drug driving laws to test for impairment, not presence.
- Allowing the cultivation of a defined number of cannabis plants in their principal places of residence.
- Regulations that allow for the establishment of Cannabis social clubs.
- Regulation of the potency of THC in legal cannabis products.
- Market controls to avoid the creation of a ‘Big Cannabis’ industry.
- Restrictions on cannabis-related advertising, marketing, and promotional products.
- Competitive pricing to undercut the illicit market.
- An appropriate tax framework to help fund cannabis- related programs.
- Expunging all historical personal-use cannabis criminal records
More than a year ago, the Legislative Council’s Legal and Social Issues Committee, which I chair, made 21 findings and 17 recommendations including that the Government investigate the impacts of legalising cannabis for adult personal use in Victoria.
The Government set up a working group to in June in response to my Bill to decriminalise the use and possession of drugs but has not released its report.
I am seeking trialling a diversion program for people apprehended with small amounts of illicit substances in two locations in the state – core to treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue.
I will do everything I can to bring that about if re-elected. Meanwhile, the case for broader law reform is overwhelming.
To deny the evidence about drug policy is similarly indefensible as denying climate science.
The half-century so-called `War on Drugs’, based on prohibition, is self-evidently one the most catastrophic failures in modern political history. It has destroyed countless lives, wasted an obscene amount of public funds, and generated a massive black market.
Prohibition is being replaced with successful harm-reduction across the world. Change here in Victoria and throughout Australia is inevitable. And overdue.
Policy Big Picture:
DATA BASE: My time in electoral politics since 2014 has been driven by a desire to make the place a bit fairer and better. I have done that through evidence-based policy and first principles including equality of opportunity, accountability, transparency and compassion.
GETTING STUFF DONE: Achievements include assisted dying legislation; improvements in women’s health; better and extended protection for minors in state care; exclusion zones around abortion clinics; harm minimisation reforms in drug law, including a medically supervised injecting room saving countless lives; spent convictions reform; pandemic-specific legislation to force the government to tell us its reasoning behind health measures.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The agenda includes further drug law reform to reduce harm; increase mental health care; tax profitable religious charities; prevent publicly funded hospitals and hospices from refusing to provide abortions, family planning and assisted dying; robust action on global warming; a new hospital for Melbourne’s north; formal inclusion of childcare in the education system; religious equality in Parliament, including respect for the non-religious.