April 13, 2021
Groups fight to keep drug reform on agenda
A justice reform advocate says there is room for the Government to change drug laws so drug use is treated as a health issue rather than a crime.
Health Minister Andrew Little has rejected a call from a coalition of health and social service organisations, charities and reform advocates for a rewrite of the Misuse of Drugs Act, because he says the Government was now constrained by last year's public vote on cannabis legalisation.
But Tania Sawicki Mead from JustSpeak says last year's referendum on Mr Little's Bill did indicate a broad consensus that criminalising people for dug use was not working, and a new approach was needed.
She says the coalition doesn't accept reform is now off the agenda.
"Because it is in line with all the commitments they have made. The Prime Minister herself spoke of wanting to see a health-based approach when she spoke at the UN. It is clearly in line with the Government's agenda and we want them to make it an urgent priority because we can't keep waiting any longer," she says.
Ms Sawicki Mead says last year's debate highlighted the racist nature of drug enforcement – and it shouldn't need a referendum to fix that.
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