Labor trials new drug policies


By Bea Brear

SYDNEY — The NSW Labor government has announced significant changes to the state's drug policies in the wake of the Drug Summit. The new measures are in line with a number of the recommendations of the summit, including a focus on rehabilitation and education on drug use.

By far the most controversial component of the government's package is a trial of the country's first legal "shooting gallery" — a safe place for heroin addicts to shoot up under the supervision of medical professionals. In May, a church-run gallery in Kings Cross was forced to shut when the NSW police raided the premises and charged users of the facility.

Other measures include: the trial of a Youth Drug Court that can sentence young drug offenders to compulsory rehabilitation rather than jail; increased funding for drug detoxification services for young people; and increased funding for drug education aimed at young people.

While providing a more effective band-aid solution than previous blame-the-victim policies, the government's new policies still do not address many of the important issues which cause young people to turn to drugs, such as high rates of youth unemployment.

And while the new drug reforms are a positive shift in the NSW government's response to the drug problem, they do not go so far as the decriminalisation of marijuana or other drugs.