Wagga MP Joe McGirr has expressed concerns about a proposal to decriminalise low-level drug possession but said he could consider it as part of a comprehensive policy from the NSW government.
A policy to hand people caught with small amounts of drugs a warning or infringement notice, rather than criminal charges, for the first few offences was reportedly presented by NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman to a cabinet meeting of senior ministers this week.
Dr McGirr said it appeared unlikely that the policy would go ahead as government figures ruled it out after media reports on the cabinet discussion.
"The [NSW ice inquiry] commissioner clearly recommended decriminalisation and that we take a health approach to this," Dr McGirr said.
"I would be prepared to support that as part of a package of measures to support the ice issue.
"I wouldn't see it as an answer in and of itself, and I am concerned about the message that it sends. I do have to acknowledge that there was a lot of evidence in the [ice inquiry] report about the value of it."
Calvary Riverina Drug and Alcohol Centre manager Brendan McCorry said a decriminalisation policy "could be helpful" in reducing harm from drugs in Wagga.
"If a person gets a criminal record, then sometimes it can act as a barrier to employment and housing," he said.
"The more that we can do to reduce the stigma associated with drug use, the more we can steer the person towards treatment rather than them ending up going into the criminal justice system."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she did not support the decriminalisation of drugs and her government would not introduce the policy.
"Last summer, myself and my government resisted a lot of pressure to test drugs at music festivals and we did not even go down that path," she said.
Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro has said he will oppose drug decriminalisation.
Wagga-based Nationals MLC Wes Fang said he agreed due to the damage from drugs in regional areas.
"I think any proposal to decriminalise drugs is an absolute disgrace and I absolutely will commit that I will not support a policy that decriminalises drugs," Mr Fang said.
"We only need to look at the regions to see what damage drugs do. This proposal does nothing to stop dealers, does nothing to stop users and those who need help with drug abuse," Mr Fang said.
"What we need to do is tackle those problems and keep drug possession and drug selling as a criminal offence."
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Wagga Labor councillor Dan Hayes said the ice inquiry report from January had shown that treating drug abuse as a health issue rather than a criminal issue was key. "At the council level, we have seen the debate about the rehab in Wagga for people seeking treatment," he said.
"Lock them up for longer or they should be scot-free; you can't just do one or the other and think that will fix it as it's much more challenging than that.
"If the government was to decriminalise illicit substances and that was all that they were to do, I think that would be a missed opportunity around addressing drug addiction in our community."
Both Cr Hayes and Dr McGirr said they looked forward to the government's formal response to the ice inquiry, which made 109 recommendations including for drug decriminalisation.
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said "no amount of drug use, in my view, is responsible nor good for people or the community."
"Having said that, we have also seen through a number of programs that diversions from the criminal justice system have worked for certain people, particularly young people," he said.