Drug reform pressure mounts as states act on deaths

Pressure is growing on the NSW government to deliver on its long-promised drug summit as Labor faces an internal push to introduce a more liberal regime for illicit substances.

Victoria has become the latest state to introduce a pill-testing trial to combat festival overdoses, fuelling calls from advocates for NSW to follow suit and stop preventable deaths.

NSW ministers have previously flagged pill testing would be one of the issues considered at a drug summit, to be held in Labor's first term of government, but no date has been set for the event.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said NSW Premier Chris Minns should drop his opposition to pill testing and lock in a date for the drug summit.

She pointed to the success of a 1999 summit - introduced by then-Labor premier Bob Carr - which led to the introduction of Sydney's medically supervised injecting centre as a harm-minimisation measure.

"I call on the premier to step up and prevent every parent's worst nightmare by immediately allowing drug-checking services and announcing the date for the drug summit," Ms Faehrmann said.

Pill-testing services in the ACT and Queensland were proven to save lives, she said.

Mr Minns has not ruled out introducing pill testing but has said it will not stop deaths at festivals because of young people taking illicit drugs.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the summit would be an opportunity to recast drug use as a matter of public health policy and "examine the structural reasons driving drug misuse and dependency".

Labor's youth wing is campaigning for "real drug reform", including a drug summit to consider decriminalising the personal use and possession of currently illicit substances.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry on cannabis regulation, NSW Young Labor - the nation's largest political youth organisation - argued in favour of legalising the drug for recreational use.

It said the government's highest priority should be health outcomes and harm minimisation, putting it at odds with the broader party's pro-criminalisation stance.

"The medical truth is that cannabis is no more harmful for an individual than currently legal substances, including alcohol and tobacco," the group said in its submission to the inquiry, which begins public hearings on Friday.

Health Minister Ryan Park confirmed the government would announce dates for the summit "in due course".

"A lot of work is being done on this to ensure that we get it right," he said on Tuesday.

Since its election in March 2023, the Minns government has introduced a policy shift in allowing more drug users caught by police to be managed through health programs without criminal penalties.

But Uniting NSW advocacy manager Emma Maiden noted only eight per cent of those caught in possession of small amounts of drugs have been diverted into the scheme since it was launched in February.