A former top cop, health industry experts and researchers are demanding the decriminalisation of illicit drugs in Australia when it comes to possession and personal use.
Following a national roundtable in March, the not-for-profit think tank Australia21 has called for state and federal governments to remove criminal sanctions and treat drug use primarily as a health and social issue.
Australia21 on Friday released the summit's final report, We All Pay the Price, which suggests Australia should adopt an approach similar to Portugal which decriminalised drugs in 2001.
It argues criminal and civil sanctions for personal possession, self-administration and cultivation of defined weights of currently illicit drugs be scrapped.
Law enforcement should continue to have a role in tackling large-scale trafficking but not in managing people who possess and use drugs, the authors write.
"The prohibition of specified drugs perversely promotes criminal markets, encourages the growth of prison populations and damages the lives of many Australian families," the report states.
It's backed by signatories including former federal police commissioner Mick Palmer, high-profile drug reform activist Dr Alex Wodak, Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers and Noffs Foundation chief executive Matt Noffs.
Mr Palmer, who's also an ex-barrister, says there "has to be a better way".
"As a society, we need to recognise that the drug situation is serious and getting worse," Mr Palmer said in the report.
"For Australians 'standing still' should be a totally unacceptable option."
He called on leaders to begin the journey towards decriminalisation which "society should demand".
Australian Associated Press