Drugs, Substance Use and Addiction

Harm minimisation policies are those directed towards reducing the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug or substance use.


The Australian Greens believe that:

  1. The use of any drug or substance (including alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals) has the potential to be of harm to the individual or to the community.
  2. A harm minimisation approach is the most appropriate way to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of drug or substance use, for the individual user and the community.
  3. Policies and programs should be adopted that are evidence-based and subject to continuous evaluation.
  4. Everyone with a drug or substance abuse problem should have access to a range of evidence-based and regularly evaluated treatment and recovery services.
  5. Education is a vital tool in reducing both harm from and demand for drugs, including legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco.
  6. Community education about the health impacts, harm minimisation and most appropriate responses to the use of drugs or substances (including prescription, non-prescription, legal and illegal drugs) should be informed by scientific evidence.
  7. First Nations communities must control, to the greatest extent possible, the development and management of responses to the use of drugs and other substances in their communities.
  8. The response by all levels of government to drug and other substance use is best addressed within a health and social framework.
  9. The individual use of illegal drugs should not fall within the criminal framework.
  10. The current punitive approach to drug use has failed to stop illicit drugs use. 
  11. The legal framework for drugs and other substances used for non-medical purposes should be informed by evidence of the extent and nature of the harm likely to be caused.
  12. There should be greater funding for demand- and harm-reduction.
  13. The costs to the community of alcohol abuse are enormous, and include negative health effects, traffic deaths, violence and domestic abuse.
  14. Active and passive consumption of tobacco smoke is a demonstrated health risk and is a significant cost to the community and health.


The Australian Greens want:

  1. A reduction in the rates of harmful consumption of drugs and other substances, including tobacco, to close to zero.
  2. Alcohol consumption patterns which fall within the range recommended by public health experts.
  3. Improved effectiveness of all management, treatment and other regulatory and judicial responses to drug or substance use in the community, to maximise harm reduction, supply reduction and demand reduction, and to improve health and social outcomes.
  4. To establish an independent drug regulatory authority to develop evidence-based and continuously evaluated policies and programs to reduce harms.
  5. To legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for recreational use.
  6. To decriminalise the personal use, possession and non-commercial sale of drugs.
  7. Universal access to drug, substance and alcohol treatment programs.
  8. An increase in public dissemination of evidence-based information on the risks, effects, and safe use of drugs and other substances.
  9. To regulate the growing and possession of cannabis and cannabis-derived products for personal and medical use.
  10. Increased availability of harm reduction programs including drug-substitution therapy, medically supervised user rooms, widely accessible supply of clean needles, including in prisons, and provision of free pill testing stations at community events and relevant venues.
  11. The public funding of drug substitution treatment and its distribution. 
  12. The removal of legal barriers to both research and the evidence-based management of substance-abuse and other medical conditions, where considered necessary by the public health community.
  13. Penalties that are based on evidence and risk management, for driving with impaired cognitive or psychomotor skills due to the consumption of drugs or other substances.
  14. To address the problem of inhalant misuse by supporting the rollout of measures, such as non-sniffable fuel throughout regions of Australia where petrol sniffing is a problem, as well as associated diversionary and rehabilitation programs.
  15. Targeted health promotion strategies to promote healthier attitudes and behaviours towards drinking, smoking and drug use, including among marginalised and diverse communities.
  16. Specific treatment programs that are funded and tailored to address individual, gender, sexuality, cultural or disability barriers.
  17. Increased support for programs that address risk factors for substance abuse, such as family violence, sexual assault, and trauma.
  18. To support research trials and rigorous evaluation of drug treatment programs.
  19. To extend the range of counselling and treatment programs covered by Medicare.
  20. Criminal penalties for the trafficking or production of commercial quantities of illicit drugs.
  21. Measures such as timely access to education, counselling, and treatment to be the first response for people with an addiction to drugs and other substances.
  22. Diversion, treatment, rehabilitation, and restorative justice programs to be a sentencing option for people convicted of non-violent crimes committed in support of their drug addiction.
  23. Coordinated, inter-agency approaches to minimising harmful drug and substance use.
  24. No advertising or promotion of alcohol in sport, which targets young people or encourages excessive drinking.
  25. All alcoholic beverages to be taxed based on alcohol content rather than value.
  26. A ban on donations from the tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical industries to political parties and candidates.
  27. Australia to lead the world in reducing the consumption of tobacco products.
  28. Increased assistance to support programs to quit tobacco, and treatment strategies for nicotine addiction.
  29. To remove legislative barriers to the production, regulated importation and supply of currently illegal drugs for use in research and medicine, where a need is demonstrated by appropriate scientific and medical authorities.
  30. To continue to reduce the effects of passive smoking, by disallowing smoking in defined public spaces.
  31. To expunge convictions for drug use or possessions of a drug for personal use when a particular drug becomes legal or decriminalised.
  32. To end the practice of using drug detection animals and strip searches in public places.
  33. To ensure the provision of free and reliable testing for intoxication due to recreational substances, including alcohol, at relevant community events and festivals, and licensed venues.

(Drugs, Substance Abuse and Addiction Policy as amended by National Conference  May 2021)

The Australian Greens recognise that many people may experience co-occurring mental and physical disability and alcohol and other drug issues, and understand the importance of connected, wrap-around supports. Please refer to related policies for further information. 

Related policies: