A new push to decriminalise the possession of illegal drugs for personal use has divided Wagga campaigners, who say the issue is broader than just a criminal offence.
Directions Health Services, which provides drug and alcohol programs in the ACT, has released a position paper which it says highlights "the positive impact removing criminal penalties and sanctions for offences involving use and possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use will have on an individual's health and welfare and on the community more broadly".
"All the evidence tells us that criminal penalties do not reduce drug use. Yet, two-thirds of Commonwealth Government drug strategy funding is spent on law enforcemen," Directions Health chief executive officer Bronwyn Hendry said.
"The position paper calls for decriminalisation of personal illicit drug use, which will reduce stigma and result in more people seeking treatment.
"Currently only a small portion of people with problematic drug use receive the assistance they need.
"Early intervention and diversion into treatment, rather than the justice system, saves taxpayer dollars by reducing criminal recidivism; improving health, wellbeing and life outcomes; significantly reducing costs associated with the judicial process and incarceration; and reducing participants' future reliance on welfare and service supports."
Wagga man Tim Kurylowicz, who has campaigned on drugs issues and previously supported pill testing at music festivals, believes the issue is broader than just a crackdown on personal drug use.
"This isn't about stopping the police from cracking down relentlessly on drug gangs, its about making sure governments step up on the other side of the equation and help people to get healthy and make safe decisions too," he said.
"In the last year over 80 per cent of drug offences were for personal use, not supply. I'd like to see those police resources freed up to focus on the drug gangs, and more investment in sensible health interventions that actually reduce drug usage in our communities over time.
"When it comes to drugs policy, the Berejiklian government seems to roll over for the shock jocks every time - and this takes a terrible toll in the real world."
Wayne Deaner from Wagga's Neighbourhood Watch said the issue was a complex one.
Mr Deaner said he was not unsympathetic to the argument in favour of decriminalising marijuana for medical use.
However, Mr Deaner remained concerned about the impact of decriminalising illegally manufactured drugs like ecstasy or of harder drugs like ice.
"At the end of the day, the law is there to protect us, and not only the people who are doing drugs, but also the people who aren't doing drugs," he said.
"I also know of people who have taken one bad ecstasy tablet or had one bad acid trip and have had serious effects on their health."