Increase in Overdoses Highlights Urgent Need for Drug Law Reform


Thousands of deaths from drug overdoses could be prevented if the Government had the courage to legalise cannabis and decriminalise all other drugs for personal use, says Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and spokesperson for Drug Law Reform and Harm Reduction, following today’s release of the Penington Annual Overdose Report 2021.

This year’s report reveals that more than 2,000 Australians died from an overdose in 2019 for the sixth consecutive year, with the number increasing year upon year. Of that number, 256 people died from consuming synthetic cannabis, with no one dying from consuming natural cannabis.

“Despite billions of taxpayers’ dollars wasted on the war on drugs, deaths from drug overdoses have exploded in the last decade,” says Ms Faehrmann.

“We will only start saving lives when the government adopts an approach that is health based and centred around reducing harm, not one focused on turning people who choose to use drugs into criminals. We need to provide help, not the threat of a jail sentence. 

“It’s particularly devastating that 256 people died from consuming synthetic cannabis, because these deaths are entirely preventable. This is reason enough to legalise cannabis by taxing and regulating it, just as we do with alcohol, and just like dozens of other jurisdictions have done around the world. 

“I have already introduced a bill to legalise cannabis in NSW. I urge the NSW government to give it serious consideration because it would extinguish any market for deadly alternatives and literally save lives.

“Across Australia each year, we see more deaths from drug overdoses than car accidents, yet the government continues to adopt an approach to drug use that persecutes drug users rather than helps them. This approach is killing people and costing billions of dollars.

“I am also preparing legislation that would decriminalise all drugs for personal use. This would ensure people can seek help when they need it without fear of getting a criminal record, as well as free up desperately-needed resources for health and social services,” says Ms Faehrmann.

This year Cate Faehrmann introduced a bill to legalise cannabis into the NSW Upper House which is yet to be debated. Find out more here.