Drug laws ‘failing us’: MP pushes for decriminalisation
IN an impassioned speech NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann accused the government of "having their heads in the sand" when it came to the prevalence of drug use across the state.
Ms Faehrmann held a forum on drug law reform at the Cavanbah Centre on Thursday night, discussing drug decriminalisation, legalising cannabis and pill testing, as part of the Greens' Rethink, Reform Campaign.
The MP, who publicly confessed to the "occasional" use of ecstasy or MDMA in an opinion piece published earlier this year, has recently introduced a bill in parliament to allow pill testing - following the drug deaths of six young people at festivals in under two years.
She said it was looking unlikely the bill would be passed.
"You have to start somewhere. Ten years ago the Greens were the only ones talking about marriage equality," Ms Faehrmann said.
"We have to push and have the hard conversations."
"Everything that is happening right now is the strongest indication that the drug laws are grossly failing us."
Ms Faehrmann said statistics show one in two people in the state have tried illicit drugs and, despite warnings, she believes people will still continue to take drugs.
She said too much money was being spent on law enforcement rather than rehabilitation.
Guest speaker Jose Porcia, from the Australian Anti-Ice Campaign, shared his story of overcoming ice addiction.
"I don't know what the answer is. I do hope and pray decriminalisation does not equal ease of accessibility of the drug ice. Please do not make it easier for anyone to obtain the drug," he said.
"Make no mistake about it - ice is dangerous, evil and insidious … it will destroy our community."
Addiction medicine specialist Dr Fares Samara also spoke at the forum. He said the younger a person is, the more likely they are to become addicted.
"There's no society that is drug free," Dr Samara said.
"The prefrontal lobe can be damaged through drug use, and this is the part of the brain that takes the longest to mature - up to 25 years of age. It's the part of the brain that makes us human beings, gives us our personality, the ability to make decisions.
"We need to reduce the harm of drugs, because people will still run around and use them no matter how much we tell them not to.
"When I go to buy wine I can find the exact strength. When it comes to illicit drugs I can't do that, and this is why young people are dying. They don't even know what they're taking."
The director of Adele House, Richard Allaway, said he believes the solution lies only in educating young people.
He said there was simply not enough space in rehab facilities - Adele House already had a three month waiting list.
"A lot of money is spent on the prison system rather than rehabilitation," he said.
"Rehab works for some but not for others. And we just don't have the beds.
"For me the solution would be educating kids at the right age as a preventive."