The Canberra Weekly reports

 

Church hails ACT drug decriminalisation bill as a breakthrough

The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT and its service arm, Uniting, have hailed Labor MLA Michael Pettersson’s bill to decriminalise possession of hard drugs as a breakthrough.

The church has said the proposed changes to the Australian Capital Territory’s drug laws are a significant step in the right direction and reflect a fact-based health response to drug use in the community.

Mr Pettersson’s private member’s bill put forward last week would see people found with small amounts of drugs for personal use no longer face arrest, fines, or jail time. Instead, offenders would have their drugs confiscated, and be referred to a medical professional.

The Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of the Uniting Church NSW and ACT, said: “These proposed laws reflect a desire to treat everyone with dignity and respect, including people who use drugs, and for them to have full access to medical treatment. Drug dependency should be treated with compassion and as a health issue.”

The Uniting Church will seek to raise support for the ACT bill among its churches, and advocate for a similar approach to drug reform to be adopted in NSW.

Uniting has long campaigned for reforms to the current “harsh and outdated” drug laws. It has spearheaded the Fair Treatment campaign to decriminalise all drugs in small quantities, treat drug use as a health issue, and offer more and better treatment options. This is supported by more than 60 legal, medical, community and church groups.

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Church hails ACT drug decriminalisation bill as a breakthrough