Ending the Drug War


The war on drugs has failed. Millions of taxpayer dollars are spent each year in NSW targeting and prosecuting people who use illegal drugs, yet drug use has only continued to increase. Nearly one in two people have tried some form of illegal drug. “Just Say No” has never worked and never will.

The NSW Police Budget has increased by $2 billion over 5 years, now up to $5.5 billion, with much of this spent on the war on drugs. Yet, the number of people using drugs in NSW has only increased with 1 in 6 people using illicit drugs in the last 12 months

Continuing to treat drug use as a criminal issue instead of a health issue does more harm than good to those who most need help. The Greens have a plan to end the drug war and provide support to those experiencing drug harms instead of treating them like criminals.

The Greens will:

  • End the use of sniffer dogs and strip searches.
  • Make parties safer with pill testing services at fixed and mobile locations to test pills and other drugs.
  • End the war on drugs by removing criminal penalties for personal drug use or possession and focusing on a health-based harm reduction approach.
  • Save hundreds of millions by ending NSW Police expenditure on drug prohibition.
  • Ensure those who need treatment are able to access it within 48 hours 
  • Build three new medically supervised injecting centres in West and South West Sydney.
  • Implement all of the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice and the Inquest into deaths at NSW music festivals by the end of 2023.



For all of human history people have used drugs. Heavy-handed policing with drug dogs and strip searches has not driven down drug use. Instead, it has led to riskier drug taking behaviour while traumatising those police are supposed to protect.

When people have more information about potentially harmful substances through services like pill testing they are more likely to engage in less risky behaviour. Many people change their behaviour or choose not to use drugs at all after using pill testing.

In 2019 the Coronial Inquest into Deaths At NSW Music Festivals recommended the NSW Government improve safety at festivals by providing pill testing. It also recommended scrapping drug detection dogs and strip searches after finding it did nothing to reduce drug use and instead encouraged users to take dangerously large amounts of drugs before entering festivals. 

Pill testing is currently available in more than 20 countries and after two trials at festivals, the ACT Government has established the first fixed-site pill testing centre in Australia.

The Greens plan to make parties safe:

  • End the use of drug detection sniffer dogs and strip searches
  • Licence and fund pill testing services at fixed and on-site locations
  • After two years Review the program’s effectiveness at reducing harms associated with drug use. 
  • Provide harm reduction information including drug counselling by qualified health professionals and peer support workers to each user of the service based on substance tested and each individual’s personal circumstances
  • Implement all of the recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice and the Inquest into deaths at NSW music festivals by the end of 2023.


Almost half of all Australians have used an illegal drug at some point in their lives, with around 3.5 million of us using in the past year. The war on drugs has well and truly failed. Reducing the harm from drug use must be the overarching objective of any drugs policy. Yet, for decades now, our drug laws have been focused on harassing and criminalising people who choose to use drugs, wasting billions in public money. More often than not, it’s younger, First Nations and other socio-economically disadvantaged people who are targeted by police. Meanwhile, those who need treatment, particularly in regional areas, often have to wait many months to get it.

When people who use illegal drugs know they risk hefty fines, a criminal record and even jail, they don’t seek help when they need it - including if they overdose. 

The Special Commission of Inquiry into Ice heard from over 160 witnesses over 14 months and made clear recommendations to reduce the harm from drugs including to decriminalise drugs and treat drug use as a health issue not a criminal one.

At least 26 countries, including Switzerland, Denmark, Brazil, France, Germany, Portugal and 11 states in the United States have decriminalised simple possession of drugs in some form. The ACT Greens-Labor Government has also recently decriminalised drugs.

The Greens plan to end the war on drugs:

  • Remove all criminal penalties for personal drug use including fines that impact vulnerable persons.
  • Expunge all non-indictable offences for drug use and possession offences.
  • Expunge all criminal records for personal drug use and possession charges.
  • Replace life in jail sentences for non-violent drug offences with a maximum 10 years in jail for commercial quantities.


The two greatest barriers to people seeking help are the stigma caused by criminalisation and a lack of access to treatment.  

Not only will the Greens decriminalise personal drug use, we will also ensure those experiencing drug harms can receive the help they need. 

The pressure of the pandemic, economic pressures and successive natural disasters have only increased the demand for treatment services, but NSW has not been able to keep up.  

Our state has less than 2 treatment beds per 10,000 people. Wait times to access a public drug and alcohol rehab clinic range  anywhere between three weeks and six months

When those who most need treatment for Alcohol and Other Drugs are unable to access treatment they often fall back into harmful patterns. It can also make it harder for people to access bail that is conditional upon receiving treatment. 

The Greens have a plan to address the Alcohol and Other Drugs crisis gripping NSW. We will:

  • Establish a Drug Harm Reduction Commission to develop and urgently implement a whole-of-government Drug Action Plan with $1 billion in funding over 4 years. 
  • Create a network of Alcohol and Other Drug treatment centres that make treatment accessible within 48 hours for those who need it, wherever they live. 
  • Expand Alcohol and Other Drug treatment services including for women, pregnant women and women with children, to meet demand.
  • Invest in the peer Alcohol and Other Drugs harm reduction workforce.


Safe Drug Consumption Sites help to significantly reduce the drug related harms by creating a safe space for persons who use drugs. 

Importantly these spaces also make it easier for persons experiencing drug-related harm to reach out for help and access support services. 

The Medically Supervised Injection Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross has been open for over 20 years and managed 8500 overdoses without a single fatality. 80% of frequently attending clients have ended up accepting a referral for treatment. 

Outside of the Sydney LGA, the next seven top ranked LGAs for overdose deaths are all in West and South West Sydney, far from the existing Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross. 

The Greens will build on the success of the Sydney MSIC by opening two new Medically Supervised Injection Centres in Western and South Western Sydney.  

First Nations

First Nations peoples disproportionately suffer as a result of the War on Drugs. In NSW 80% of Indigenous people found with small amounts of cannabis end up in the criminal justice system compared to around 50% of the non-indigenous population. 

The Greens will end the discriminatory War on Drugs and: 

  • Invest in Aboriginal community-controlled health services and increase the number of Aboriginal people working in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment sector. 
  • Create a partnership between  NSW Health and  Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal community controlled health services to urgently develop and to significantly increase the availability of local specialist drug treatment services that are culturally respectful, culturally competent and culturally safe to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal people.
  • Through NSW Health, develop and implement an Aboriginal AOD Health Worker Training Program.