I’m a church minister. Here’s why I think the ACT should lead on drug reform

8 June 2022 | Andrew Smith

As a church minister I get asked about drugs more than you might expect. That’s because the Uniting Church Synod of NSW & the ACT leads the Fair Treatment campaign to change the legal systems that govern drug use and to expand health services.

In this context, the ACT Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021 has been a welcome development.

The Uniting Church is not alone in its belief everyone deserves access to health services when they need it. That our laws and policies should be fair, compassionate and evidence-based. That every human being is of equal worth.

The Church is also joined by many of the view that our laws that govern non-cannabis drug use are broken. Lots of people still use currently illegal drugs. People use drugs and alcohol for a reason. Some people develop drug dependency issues. This is the real world.

When we criminalise people with health problems, they become more isolated and less likely to reach out for help. Families suffer. People don’t reach their full potential. Our First Nations community is particularly impacted due to the legacy of dispossession and trauma, for which we must all take responsibility.

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