Ex-cop joins drug decriminalisation push

Former Tasmania Police Commissioner Jack Johnston has joined a national push to decriminalise drugs.

The retired officer of more than 40 years has put his name to a new report which calls for drug law reform.

Retired judges, prosecutors, prison and parole administrators, drug law researchers and advocates are among those pushing for the change.

The Australia 21 report was officially launched on Monday by BeyondBlue founder Jeff Kennett and former Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr.

Supporting the report, former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer said “we must be courageous enough to consider a new and different approach”.

“What we now have is badly broken, ineffective and even counterproductive to the harm minimisation aims of Australia’s national illicit drugs policy,” he said.

Fellow supporter and Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak said the “threshold step is to redefine drugs as primarily a health and social issue rather than one of criminal justice”.

The report includes 13 key recommendations and “distinguishes between high-end production and trafficking on the one hand, and personal use and possession on the other”.

The recommendations include minimising harms for drug users and those around them, reducing the use of untested, unregulated drugs in unsafe environments and providing health and social programs to reduce drug-related problems. The report also aims to “reduce criminal control of the drug market, reduce the prison population and its associated progress to hard drug use and support police and the judicial system to focus law enforcement more usefully”.