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Decriminalise drugs: Health experts slam Greens’ drug plans

Greens leader Richard Di Natale says “the individual use of illegal drugs should not fall within the ­criminal framework”. THE Greens’ official push to ­decriminalise a number of illicit and harmful drugs has been ­universally condemned for giving ruthless drug dealers the “green light” to peddle their deadly trade on our streets. Greens leader Richard Di Natale was condemned after his party agreed to remove their opposition to the legalisation of illicit substances from policy documents. The party’s policy says “the individual use of illegal drugs should not fall within the ­criminal framework”. Government ministers immediately ruled out the crazy proposal last night, declaring the hairbrained plan would put money in the pockets of drug dealers while at the same time destroying the health — and the families — of addicts. Justice Minister Michael Keenan described the Greens’ policy as “reckless and dangerous” and “a threat to our community”, saying it would “embolden drug dealers and drug users by giving them a green light to continue their soul-destroying trade”. He said the government “will not rest in our efforts” to shut down the drug trade. Health Minister Sussan Ley slammed the proposal, declaring the Turnbull government would never legalise illicit drugs.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

“The Australian government will never legalise a drug that destroys brain function, mental wellbeing, general health, employment, relationships, lives and families,’’ she said. Ms Ley, who is based in country NSW, said the government had to continue taking a hard line stance with the growth of methamphetamines in regional areas. “The Coalition government is against all forms of illegal drugs, and is particularly concerned about the impact ice is having across Australia, especially in regional areas,” she said. Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said he welcomed a discussion that focused on treatment options but said legalising drugs was a “bridge too far” — including marijuana. “To decriminalise drugs is a bridge too far,’’ Dr Gannon said. “We must be really careful about the conversation we have. We must remember that they cause a hell of a lot of harm.”

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Michael Gannon said simply legalising drugs was not the answer. Dr Gannon said there were “some really unhappy statistics” about the increase in usage of illicit substances in recent years. He welcomed the Greens looking at different measures to improve health outcomes for addicts. Dr Di Natale issued a statement insisting drug use was a health problem rather than a criminal problem. “For more than half a century we’ve been pursuing a series of failed policies that criminalise a health problem and have only succeeded in making it worse,’’ he said. “The time has come to completely rethink our approach to drugs and treat it as a health problem, which is why the Greens have decided to change our policy to one that focuses on minimising harm and ­saving lives.” Originally published as Health experts slam Greens’ drug plans

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