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Author Topic: [AUS] NSW to introduce fines for minor drug offences (and diversion programs)  (Read 823 times)

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source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-09/nsw-drug-law-reform-fines-for-minor-offences-diversion-programs/102953686

NSW to introduce fines for minor drug offences, allowing users to opt into diversion programs

10 October, 2023

The Minns government says the reform to drug laws is about reducing long-term drug offending.

People caught with a small quantity of illicit substances in New South Wales will soon avoid criminal sanctions as the government is set to overhaul drug laws.

Key points:
  • The Minns government will introduce a bill to parliament this week
  • The change will allow police to issue two on-the-spot fines of $400, which can be waived
  • The new scheme is set to start in 2024
  • The change was recommended by a special commission of inquiry into ice use more than three years ago, but has not been legislated, despite the former government announcing the reform late last year.
The Minns government said it would introduce a bill to parliament this week, in an effort to reduce long-term drug offending.

Under the changes, NSW Police will be given the ability to issue up to two on-the-spot Criminal Infringement Notices (CINs), which are $400 fines, to adults for personal drug use and small quantity drug possession offences.

But that fine can be waived by completing a tailored drug and alcohol intervention program.

If the health intervention is not completed, the penalty will be enforced by Revenue NSW.

A similar program already exists for minor cannabis possession offences but will be expanded to include drugs such as cocaine, MDMA and ice.

It will not apply to convicted drug suppliers or traffickers, or people who have already incurred two CINs for drug possession.

Producers or manufacturers of drugs are also not included in the program.

NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said he wanted to reduce people's contact with the court system for minor offences.

"We want to see people receive the health supports
they need rather than see them caught up in the
criminal justice system," he said.

"It is still an offence to possess and use illicit drugs and the NSW government supports people, their families and communities impacted by illicit drugs.

"This approach to personal drug use and possession will also reduce pressures on the Local Court system and free up its resources to deal with more serious issues."

The former Coalition government had flagged the same reform in September last year, more than two years on from the ice inquiry's recommendations.

But it first sent the plan to the chief health officer and police commissioner for advice, who were due to report back after the March election.

The Minns government expects the scheme to start in early 2024.
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