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NSW Drug Overhaul Would See Users Work Off Minor Offences

People caught with small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use could soon avoid criminal charges as NSW is set to overhaul drug laws.

The state government will introduce a bill to parliament this week which will give offenders the ability to be issued up to two on-the-spot Criminal Infringement Notices (CNIs).

The CNIs carry a $400 fine for adults found guilty of personal drug use and small quantity drug possession.

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Those fines can be waived by completing a “tailored drug and alcohol intervention” program.

If the program isn’t completed, then the penalty will be enforced by Revenue NSW.

A similar program is in place for minor cannabis possession, but the new bill will include harder drugs including cocaine, MDMA and ice.

It’s argued the program will allow for police to focus on dealers and connect users with support to avoid long-term drug use.

NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said the changes would reduce people attending court 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.

“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 changes were recommended by a commission of inquiry into ice usage over three years ago but had not been legislated.

If implemented, it would bring NSW in line with other Australian states and territories.

The proposal comes after the government dismissed called for a pill-testing trial after two young men died after taking drugs at a music festival in Sydney last week.

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