Drug -Decriminalisation

Reconceptualising Drug Crime

Amidst calls for drug decriminalisation in the Western World, former US president Donald Trump has praised China for its draconian stance on drug supply. However, China has been condemned internationally for executing drug suppliers, a non-violent crime. While speaking at a rally on July 8, 2022, Trump claimed that countries who instituted capital punishment for drug suppliers, don’t have a drug problem. However, simplistic and populist rhetoric which seeks to ‘get tough on crime’ has been widely criticised by criminologists as ineffective at reducing crime (Hogg 1999). In conflict with Mr Trump’s claims, the National Narcotics Control Commission indicates that drugs are prevalent in China and drug use is on the rise.

The ‘war against drugs’ has been a major target for penal populist rhetoric. Rooted in ideology, prohibition has been the dominant policy choice for drug control for decades. The fortification of punitive drug laws has resulted in soaring imprisonment rates, created powerful drug cartels, increased overdoses and have failed to reduce drug use and supply (Hogg 1999, Polomarkakis 2017).  These inherent failures have strengthened debate amongst academics and the legal community about drug decriminalisation and the redirection of resources into more effective measures. Reconceptualising drug use as medical issue, rather than a legal one, is at the forefront of these debates for obvious reasons, such as removing illegal drug markets, and quality control.

Currently, the Attorney General Mark Speakman, is campaigning to implement changes to drug laws in NSW as the current approach, prohibition, is not working (Loomes 2022). The proposed reforms include a pilot drug diversion program allowing police discretion to give those caught with drugs for personal use up to two $400 fines in an effort to circumvent the court system, at least in the short term. The fines can be waived if the user obtains a health intervention. The small move towards decriminalisation have been applauded by different groups (Loomes 2022), but they agree it is not enough. Matt Noffs, CEO of Ted Knoffs and Joanne Van der Plaat of the law society urge politicians to deliver more ambitious reforms to drugs laws.

We here at Rep-Revive Criminal & Employment lawyers have helped many people avoid convictions under the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act. So if you, or someone you know, have been charged or suspected for a drug offence contact Rep-Revive Criminal & Employment Lawyers® for a free initial consultation on (02) 9198 1997 or visit for further information on how we listen, we fight, and you win! We are always in your corner!


Hogg, R (1999). ‘Mandatory Sentencing Laws and the Symbolic Politics of Law and Order’, UNSW Law Journal 22.

Loomes, P (June 2, 2022) ‘NSW Attorney General Urges Drug Law Pivot, Seven News, available at:

Polomarkakis, KA (2017), ‘Drug Law Enforcement Revisiting: The ‘War’ Against the War on Drugs’, Journal of Drug Issues 47(3). 


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