NSW Government Rules Out Decriminalising the Possession of Illicit Drugs

The NSW Government has ruled out decriminalising the possession of illicit drugs but there could be a change made to the policy in the instance when people are found with small quantities.

According to 7News, if someone is caught with a quantity that is considered small enough to be classified as “personal use”, they may not be charged under the new policy.

Following the special commission inquiry into ice in 2019, there were 109 recommendations made to the government which included the decriminalisation of the use and possession for the personal use of prohibited drugs.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the NSW Government was still considering its response to the inquiry but it “does not plan to decriminalise possession of illicit drugs”.

Instead of decriminalisation, 7News has reported that a “three chance” system could be brought in. This would work as follows: If caught once, the person would be given a warning. If caught a second and third time within a 12-month period, they would be fined. If a person was to be found a fourth time within a year of the first instance, they will then face a criminal penalty. But, if it was to occur outside of this 12-month period, the count resets.

“This is a victory for common sense, a win for young people who don’t want to be monstered just for being young and ultimately a win for police who can divert these resources to fighting serious crime,” Greens MP David Shoebridge said. “This will not end the government’s unwinnable war on drugs but it will lead to an important rebalancing of powers between police and civil rights.”

A minister, speaking to SMH on the condition of anonymity, said that cabinet was focusing on early intervention and diverting people away from a “life of crime”, which explains the thought process behind the new policy.

“This is about keeping people out of court who should never be in court who also tie up the justice system. It’s to divert people from a life of crime and recidivism,” they said.

A final decision is expected to be handed down by the NSW Government within the next few weeks.

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