DRUG LAWS: MP keeps ‘open mind’ on reform
GURMESH Singh has avoided taking a hard line against a potential Coalition drug policy shift, instead saying he kept an "open mind" on any method that could reduce drug use.
Following possible moves to 'de-penalise' drug possession, Mr Singh stopped short of declaring his position either for or against the policy in light of the lack of detail, but remained steadfast in his opposition to any change to the criminalisation of the drug ice.
While admitting he wasn't sure whether he agreed in-principal to de-penalisation for other drugs, Mr Singh pointed out the government had not sought to 'de-penalise' other offences.
However, he said "we should always keep an open mind" to different approaches if it meant drug use was reduced, so long as it was part of a holistic response and "guided by facts".
"There are some drugs out there, like ice, that have nothing but a detrimental effect on the user and our society," he said.
"I'm not against trialling different methods (for drugs other than ice) but because the potential for harm is so great we need to tread carefully. It's not something you want to get wrong."
This month it emerged the NSW State Government was considering a change to illicit drug laws by introducing a form of depenalisation which could see people receive warnings or fines for drug possession, rather than being convicted of an offence.
While there are scant details about the plans, both depenalisation and decriminalisation were recommended in the report handed down by the Special Commission of Inquiry into 'Ice'.
In March, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission released its National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report showing Australians were spending an estimated $11.3 billion on illicit drugs.
It was estimated the population was consuming 11.5 tonnes of ice, 4.6 tonnes of cocaine, 2.2 tonnes of MDMA, and more than 900 kilograms of heroin per year.
When those figures were put to Mr Singh and he was asked whether the status quo was working, he said it had changed with the introduction of the Drug Supply Prohibition Order Pilot Scheme.
The pilot scheme gives Coffs/Clarence police more powers to search the homes of convicted drug dealers and manufacturers and Mr Singh said it needed time to take affect and produce outcomes.
"I would love to see them take effect before we start making other changes," he said.