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Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Councillor calls for new approach as drug crime spirals

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Lismore councillor Eddie Lloyd. Photo supplied

The Northern Rivers is ‘leading the state’ in the number of drug offences committed, according to Lismore Cr Eddie Lloyd.

And she says it’s time for the Lismore community to ‘take its head out of the sand’ on the issue.

According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, the NSW state average for drug offences is 754.5 per 100,000 people, but the Lismore local government area’s average is over three times that at 2,183.70 per 100,000 people.

And the statistics for drug and alcohol-related crime in almost every other category is well above the state average, Cr Lloyd said.


She added that ‘lackling the twin problems of substance abuse in the Northern Rivers will require a “YIMBY”, or “yes in my backyard’ approach.

‘The statistics don’t lie,’ Cr Lloyd said.

‘We can’t continue to ignore the reality of this situation. Sticking our heads in the sand isn’t working, we need to recognise that substance abuse is prevalent in our community, and we need to open our minds to potential solutions.

‘That means looking at the issue through a health prism and saying yes to things like more residential rehabilitation centres – where the waiting lists are currently between three and five months – or yes to proven successful initiatives such as a Drug Court and a Koori Court.’

Cr Lloyd will tomorrow night present a motion to Lismore Council to establish a Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee, made up of a panel of local experts from across agencies of health, social and justice.

The committee would be tasked with ‘examining the causes of high levels of drug-related crime in the Lismore area, and working with all levels of government find potential solutions’.

Cr Lloyd said these could include a drug court, additional residential drug rehabilitation facilities, a youth and adult Koori court and so-called Justice Reinvestment Initiatives.

‘In my professional life as a defence lawyer I see the human, social and financial impact of substance abuse on our community every day,’ Cr Lloyd said.

‘The cost to the government and tax-payer of drug-related crime does not just come as a huge economic cost to the government and taxpayer but also comes at a social cost to our families and communities.

‘If we all agree that community safety is the priority then effective, adequate treatment services must be provided to meet the very high need in our region,’ Cr Lloyd said.


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  1. I suggest ms Loyd and others read the recent book by Johann Hari in which he points out that the ‘war on drugs’ is basically the creator of the war on drugs.
    If we treat drugs as a health issue rather than a criminal issue, a lot of the ‘war’ would disappear. Before President Hoover started the war on drugs, there was the American ban on alcohol, and we know what that caused – supplying alcohol became a unregulated dangerous criminal activity leading to lots of murders and violence and corruption. Now that prohibition is over, things have returned to normal with most people consuming small amounts and only a few alcoholics who need health treatment, not criminal justice.
    So it was with drugs – I say ‘was’ because I’m not sure that trying to reverse the situation might be difficult because of all the extreme unregulated high power drugs that are now available – if you’re going to risk supplying illegal drugs – you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!
    Legalising drugs releases police to do other criminal justice activities leading to better trust in the police force and less temptation for corruption, gives money to the budget from licence fees for supply and this can be used to help the small percentage of addicts. Hari suggests less than 10% of people taking drugs today become addicted.
    Let’s face it, before the war on drugs you used to be able to buy ‘Granny Betty’s Tonic’ or something similar which probably had opium in it and was popularly used as a tonic and pick me up. A few may have become addicted but most took such drugs as a mild pickmeup after a tough day.
    And always remember that alcohol is a much more dangerous and widespread problem than drugs – and do we criminalise it? No, partly because we have learnt the lesson of prohibition.

  2. Great work by Councillor Eddie Lloyd, exactly what is required to improve the realities of the rainbow region.

  3. A way to remove our collective heads from the sand would be to examine our absolutely faultless drug prohibition laws, designed to solve the problems drugs can cause in society. After 50+years of a very expensive drug war how are they doing?
    Given you can get anything you want anywhere you want, restricting supply doesn’t seem to doing too well. Particularly since it’s estimated less than 2% of all trafficked drugs are ever seized.
    Illicit drugs are now the 3rd largest industry in the world so these laws aren’t restricting income for the major dealers either. However, the 3rd largest industry on the planet clearly has massive influence on our legal and political systems and mainstream media, all of which are for sale to the highest bidder.
    Around 80% of prison inmates are drug related. The vast majority are minor dealers and users as there are no really major dealers in prison anywhere.
    Treating our drug problems as a legal issue is a money making scam. If we want to solve the problems drugs can cause in society they must be treated as a medical problem. These drug laws must be shown for what they are.

  4. I suggest that political pressure is brought to bear on the judges and magistrates who these people appear before. There are far too many junkies and pushers walking away with a slap on the wrist and a finger waggle.

    • Jon, the point of my earlier remark is that turning the drug issue into a health rather than criminal activity would stop most of what you complain about from happening. If drugs were available over the counter from licensed businesses, we wouldn’t have the pushers and junkies.
      Its’ the criminalisation that turns people onto the wrong side of the law.
      Just look back to prohibition. – a horrible network of criminal gangs fighting the law and each other – no effective regulation, and a police force wide open to corruption.
      And no one bothers with the weak drugs – if you’re risking breaking the law you sell the most powerful drugs. Before and after prohibition in America, the most popular drink was beer, but beer is low alcohol, takes lots of trucks to carry illicit loads, so you only supply high power alcohol – and safety isn’t an issue when you;re trying to make money illegally. So spirits and then ‘white lightning’ which killed some and rendered others blind or whatever. And because it was criminal, no checks on quality or dose rate. I’d guess that most of the overdose victims were caused by different strength drugs – Buy off a pusher – he probably can;t tell you how strong a particular batch is – so you do what you did with the last batch – but this one is much stronger – Overdose!!
      Beer is once again the most popular alcohol in the US.
      Decriminalisation at least lets us control the quality and safety.
      BUT, law and order and control are watchwords of our current political system – both parties, so don;t expect a shift anytime soon. More will die, more will be hooked into the system – become criminals, and the police will continue to harass everyone instead of dealing with real criminal activity.

  5. ABOUT TIME. Australia is SO backwards on this issue. Legalize cannabis, no more sniffer dogs, pill testing at festivals (all very important issues before parliament in Victoria ATM) – for starters!!! Look at progressive countries like The Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, The U.S.A., Canada & now New Zealand. Do we always have to be 20 years behind the rest? It’s the government, courts & cops all power tripping, revenue raising & looking for an easy bust to keep users living in fear and enslaved to the system one way or another… OBEY OR ELSE!!! NO VICTIM, NO CRIME. #420

  6. Decriminalise cannabis for a start and stand down the local police squad targeted with finding grows, which could be better employed elsewhere. Why, when cannabis has so many health benefits across a spectrum of diseases as well as being a product that can be used as a food and to replace plastics, is so much effort wasted in charging people who use it? It’s absolute madness.

  7. What on earth has this got to do with Lismore City Council. MS Lloyd seems to want to get involved in everything but fixing our roads. This is just more grandstanding from the Lismore Greens. How about fixing our roads. Or opening the libraries longer.
    Finally what good is this money wasting enterprise unless the State Government gets on board. It’s just more hot air from Ms Lloyd.

  8. Decriminalise cannabis. All this stuff-and-nonsense looks like
    an old ‘key-stone cops’ 1950s Saturday afternoon kids’ movie
    trailer. Cannabis doesn’t kill – it has many health benefits the
    prescription drugs can’t match. Simple as that.

  9. Cannabis is a gateway drug to other, genuinely dangerous drugs. Why? Because it is illegal and therefore people who want it have to buy it from criminals who often put them in contact with genuinely dangerous drugs. We should stop cannabis being a gateway drug to dangerous drugs – by legalising it so it can be supplied by people who are not operating in accordance with an agenda to introduce the purchaser to another drug that they are more likely to return for, again and again. After all, if cannabis is a gateway drug then so is alcohol, for even more people (more people use alcohol, so might decide to try another drug). Legalising alcohol use fixed this problem; so would legalising cannabis


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