WA Greens push to decriminalise drug use

Rebecca Gredley

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has called for the decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use while campaigning in Perth for the WA election.

He says illicit drug use should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal one in WA, where use of the drug ice is believed to be the highest in the country.

The Greens say their policy aims for harm reduction with people caught with drugs, such as methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine, for personal use directed towards health care rather than the justice system.

Dr Di Natale was in Perth on Tuesday and said he had seen how the current approach to drugs was causing more harm than good during his work as a drug and alcohol doctor.

"We need to treat people who have a health problem through the health system, and not treat them like criminals," he told reporters.

North Metro candidate Alison Xamon said WA had some of the toughest drug laws but it was not working.

"There's a little bit of a battle between the old parties to see who can be the toughest on drugs, because it is considered to be a popular way to approach it, but it doesn't work," she said.

The Greens' policy also proposes publicly funded pill testing at events like music festivals, "to provide information to drug users on the content of illegal drugs to allow them to make more informed choices".

This approach is used in European countries such as the Netherlands and Austria, and drug test results would be published through an online system.

Both the Liberal and Labor parties have condemned the plan, and Police Minister Liza Harvey said it sent an irresponsible message.

"We know these drugs cause harm to people, we know that people end up with psychosis from using them," she told 6PR radio.

"It's not the way forward. Our policy provides ramped-up rehab opportunities for those people who want to get out of the addiction cycle."

The Greens are also calling for a WA State Royal Commission to address drug crime and why the current "war on drugs" is failing.

Dr Di Natale visited the Roe 8 construction site with WA Greens senator Scott Ludlam on Tuesday afternoon and will attend a drugs forum in the evening.