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Greens candidate explains party’s drugs position

“It takes courage to have difficult conversations about drug use, but we must because the current approach is failing the people of Cowper and putting lives at risk,” says Greens candidate for Cowper, Carol Vernon.
“The Greens stand with the health professionals, legal experts and families impacted by drug use, who are calling for a new approach.
“Let’s be clear, the Greens are not advocating for the legalisation of ice. We are advocating for a change of approach to drug use – one that is backed up by the evidence and one that actually works.
“The Greens have been hosting roundtables around the country with experts from law enforcement, academics and social workers about drug use in our communities.
“From them, it’s clear that the current law and order approach is not working. We owe it to them to find new ways of tackling this critical issue.
“The Greens believe we must put harm minimisation at the front and centre of any approach to drug use. Australia used to be a world leader in harm minimisation until politicians lost the courage to take action based on evidence.
“We are in the process of consulting with the community, police, law enforcement and doctors to discuss what a new approach to drug use could like in Australia.
“One model that is consistently raised is Portugal’s approach. In Portugal, drug dealers are prosecuted but individual users are dealt with through the health system instead of put in jail – and the millions of dollars spent locking up small time users can be spent on actually getting people the treatment they need.
“We believe that drug dealers should be prosecuted but we think it’s better to treat individual users through the health system rather than a criminal one.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of illicit drug use in the world, despite our no tolerance policy. The current approach is clearly not working.
“We have got young people overdosing and dying, because they’re taking substances of unknown quality and purity. There are measures we can put in place to help keep these kids safe.
“We have a situation where people who are addicted and need medical help are being arrested or locked up in gaol, instead of being given the treatment they need. Right now, that treatment is not always available – we need to be prioritising helping people get well rather than simply locking them up.”
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