New push to decriminalise ice in Australia

Push to let addicts off jail for using Australia’s worst drug: Legal experts mount campaign to decriminalise the use and possession of meth

  • A New South Wales inquiry is ongoing into the drug ice and how to tackle it 
  • Lawyers for the Bar Association have suggested decriminalisation is good idea 
  • Drug addicts could be ordered to attend treatment instead of thrown in jail

Personal use of the drug ice should be decriminalised to reduce its spread and help addicts get treatment, lawyers have argued

Personal use of the drug ice should be decriminalised to reduce its spread and help addicts get treatment, lawyers have argued. 

The crisis would be better dealt with as a public health issue rather than under the criminal regime, the Bar Association has said.

Under that system, drug addicts could be ordered to attend treatment and rehabilitation instead of being thrown in jail.

Producing and dealing the drug would still be illegal.

The model is inspired by Portugal which decriminalised personal drug use in 2001. 

In a submission to the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice, The Bar Association said treating addicts as criminals is bad for society, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘Decriminalisation of personal acquisition, possession and use of illicit drugs would allow the implementation of a comprehensive public health approach,’ said the Bar Association President.

Legal Aid NSW also agreed with decriminalisation and said that would help addicts recover.

It said: ‘the intervention of the criminal law is a significant barrier to access to treatment for many people’.

‘Defendants seeking treatment are frequently placed on unrealistic bail conditions to completely abstain from drug use, and being detected in possession or under the influence of drugs leads to frequent arrests and incarceration, which interrupts treatment.’


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The body said there is a ‘need for a cultural shift, greater community awareness and systemic decriminalisation so that drug usage can be addressed as a health issue rather than with the blunt instrument of the criminal justice system’.

The Public Defenders Office also said the plan was worth considering.

It said: ‘Consideration should be given to whether, particularly for offences of simple possession, the interests of the public… would be better served by a significant focus on harm minimisation, treatment and rehabilitation and by focusing law enforcement and justice resources on serious trafficking offences and community safety offences such as drug-driving’. 

The inquiry will report to the Governor by October 28.