Barristers back drug rehab facilities in regional areas

CLOSING SUBMISSIONS: The ice inquiry is due to report to the government in January. Photo: FILE
CLOSING SUBMISSIONS: The ice inquiry is due to report to the government in January. Photo: FILE

Barristers assisting the NSW government's ice inquiry say the man heading it up should call for more residential drug rehabilitation and detoxification facilities to be "urgently" established in regional areas.

In their closing submissions to Professor Dan Howard SC - the commissioner running the ice inquiry - the barristers say the government should be urged to implement recommendations contained in a 2017 NSW parliamentary inquiry into drug rehab services in regional, rural and remote areas.

Drug use and possession should be decriminalised and people found with drugs or using them should be referred to a health service, the barristers suggested.

Their other recommendations include expanding the NSW Drug Court to regional areas and introducing drug testing trials at music festivals and other locations.

"Historically, NSW was a world leader in developing policy responses to illicit drug use, particularly in the period of reform following the 1999 Drug Summit," the barristers' closing submission read.

Two decades later, the submission noted NSW did not have a formal drug policy, the Youth Drug Court had closed and regional and rural communities still did not have equitable access to drug detox and rehab services.

In January the government offered in-principle support for the 2017 parliamentary inquiry's recommendations but it has said the ice inquiry would have to conclude before further decisions about drug policies were made.

The ice inquiry is due to report to the government in January 2020.