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Drug laws NSW: Government could soften punishment

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Drug laws NSW: Government could soften punishment
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A new approach to penalties for drug users is being floated by the NSW Government that could see people warned or fined long before they’re charged.

People busted with a small amount of illicit drugs could be let off with nothing but a warning after it was revealed the NSW Government is considering a new approach to penalties.

News of the plan was first revealed on Seven News on Wednesday night with the network suggesting if someone is caught with a quantity small enough to be classified as “personal use” in NSW, they may not be charged.

If they’re busted a second and third time within a 12 month period they will be slapped with a fine – a fourth time would result in a potential criminal penalty.

It is understood the state government is split over such a move, but State Cabinet has agreed to look at the proposal which was brought forward by NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman, following recommendations for drug law reform raised during an inquiry into the use of the drug ice and drug-related deaths at music festivals.

While the finer details of the policy are still in the works, State Cabinet is likely to outline it later this month.

“It’s a major win for common sense,” Greens Minister David Shoebridge told 7 News.

“It’s a major win for young people who can go about their daily lives without being monstered by police.

“These are modest changes, far from full decriminalisation, but if they do become law they will reduce unnecessary and aggressive policing of minor drug offences.”

The policy is likely to apply to all forms of illicit drugs but what quantities constitute as “personal use” remain unclear.

According to the ABC, Greens Minister and drug law reform spokesman Cate Faehrmann described the policy as a “game changer”.

“Young people have been harassed for too long in NSW for simply doing something that almost half of us have done in our lifetimes, and that is use an illegal drug,” she said.

“With one in six Australian adults having used an illicit drug in the past year, it’s clear that the war on drugs has failed.

However the government said the plan was not to “decriminalise” possession of illicit drugs.

The policy is not supported by all ministers, with a decision to be finalised within weeks.

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