The ACT Greens' Vision for Drug Harm Reduction:
Currently, the ACT Legislative Assembly is discussing the decriminalisation of the personal possession and use of drugs. The purpose of drug decriminalisation is to enable people who use drugs to access health services and support safely and confidently. But the ACT Government's proposed approach to the regulation of drugs retains significant penalties for most drug users. The ACT Greens have proposed a more compassionate, evidence-based approach that enacts the real principals of decriminalisation.
We're calling on Minister Stephen Smith to take a bolder approach to drug decriminalisation. 💚
The ACT Government has proposed that decriminalisation only apply to very small quantities of drugs.
Experts have told us that these small quantity limits do not reflect the patterns of drug possession and purchase in the ACT.
The ACT Greens believe that drug addiction must be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one. The ACT Government's proposed approach maintains punitive financial and custodial penalties for people who are found to be in possession of drugs above these small quantity limits. Therefore, the ACT Government will continue to criminalise drug possession, undermining the intent of decriminalisation.
The ACT Greens' proposal would remove all penalties for drug possession aligned with the evidence of the amounts people have for personal use. Canberrans should be supported to visit their trusted health services when they are facing drug dependency, and we know that fear of criminalisation drives people away from support. We believe that the government should lead the community in the fight to dismantle the stigma around drugs and retaining serious penalties for personal possession serves to continue to stigmatise marginalised people.
The introduction of fines goes against the principles of decriminalisation and risks marginalising vulnerable communities.
Instead, the ACT Greens are proposing an exemption for all adults to the charge of possession for personal use. This would work similarly to the exemption currently in place for the possession of cannabis which has seen no real increase in cannabis used and a four-fold increase in the number of people accessing support for substance use issues.
Our proposed exemption would effectively decriminalise possession to enable access to health services without fear of criminal or financial penalty.
The proposed drug diversion program risks being out of reach for those we need it most
The ACT Greens believe that any proposed drug diversion program must be built out of the tenants of compassion and harm reduction. Currently, the ACT Government's proposal risks making the program exclusionary and difficult to navigate for those who need it most by making the legal definition of the program too complicated and restrictive. We know that drug treatment services are only effective for those who are willing and wanting to participate in them.
The ACT Greens' proposal would ensure that the drug diversion program provides a high level of flexibility to those making decisions about their care. Should they choose to continue with the program, the ACT Greens' approach would provide a greater ability to cater programs to the different lives of patients.
Polling from Uniting ACT/NSW found that 70% of Canberrans support a non-punitive, health-based response to drug use. 💊