Lawyer joins heavy-hitters at drug reform discussions
A LISMORE councillor and lawyer has been involved in a roundtable discussion considering the merits of drug decriminalisation in NSW.
Eddie Lloyd, a Lismore City Councillor and Aboriginal Legal Service solicitor, recently travelled to Sydney for the discussions which took place as part of an extension of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice.
Since that meeting, the ACT has passed legislation allowing residents to possess 50 grams of cannabis and to cultivate up to two plants per person.
And while the NSW inquiry has been focusing on the drug ice and other amphetamine-type stimulants, Ms Lloyd believes a broader decriminalisation approach could be considered in NSW.
The roundtable's 11 participants included former NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak.
Ms Lloyd said they considered evidence from jurisdictions across the world, including Portugal.
Compared to other parts of the world, and other parts of Australia, she said NSW was "a laggard in terms of drug law reform".
From 2018 to March this year, the Australian Border Force seized 4258kg of amphetamine-type stimulants at the Australian border.
Most of this was ice and 94 per cent was destined for NSW.
"We're way behind and we've got the most reason to do something about it," she said.
From social drug users to those in the grips of substance use disorder, Ms Lloyd said criminalising personal use and possession wasn't deterring drug use, but adding layers of hardship.
She said this was the case for both social users and those in the grips of substance use disorder.
"We shouldn't be criminalising health and social issues," she said.
"I think decriminalising will reduce the stigma which will enable people to (get help).
"Decriminalisation will also mean that people will have access to treatment."
She said if help was more available and a criminal record was a more remote prospect, this would help to reduce drug-related crime.
But Ms Lloyd, who also gave evidence at a Parliamentary Inquiry into regional rehab services last year, said any recommendations may be worthless without real action on the findings of that earlier inquiry.
"You can't do anything without putting in all of the treatment facilities that are needed for the demand," she said.
"You can't just introduce these programs of taking things out of the criminal justice system without having that infrastructure there."
Ms Lloyd said it was "an honour" to be a part of the discussion.
"I felt like I wasn't just speaking for the Lismore community but speaking for all the regional communities around NSW because all our issues are similar," she said.
"I felt like it was a good opportunity to speak out for regional NSW."