Uniting Church Reverend Simon Hansford is leading the fight to decriminalise dangerous drugs in NSW.
The NSW government is considering a proposal reform to drug laws, following the recent Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice.
The inquiry recommends the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use.
The cabinet has announced they would consider adopting a three-strikes rule, where people found with a small amount of an illicit drug would be subject to warnings and fines before being charged.
Reverend Hansford is the Uniting Church Moderator for NSW and the ACT and a firm supporter of drug law reform.
In a recent open letter, sent to every MP in the state, he urged parliament to adopt "a more compassionate approach to drug use being extended to those who are most in need of it".
"I am offering my support for implementing such a change. I will support you publicly in the media and I will also encourage our 500 churches across NSW and ACT to advocate similarly for such a move," his letter reads.
In an interview with the Daily Liberalthe Reverend made a moral, faith-based case for ending the punitive approach to drug use.
"The church is involved because we believe in the value of every human being," he said.
"Our understanding of the gospel says that Jesus Christ is present in every human being, and the priority of the gospel is for those who are most in need, and it would seem the person most in need is a person who is drug dependent, who is frightened of the consequences and doesn't know where to turn for help."
The Uniting Church have been long supporters of drug reform and the decriminalisation of drug dependency.
In 2018 the church led the 'Long Walk to Treatment', which saw 100 people take 500,000 steps from Dubbo to Sydney to deliver a letter to NSW Parliament asking for better access to drug services.
The Church has also been long-term supporters and auspices of the medically supervised injecting centre in Kings Cross.
The Reverend said the Uniting Church were advocating drug dependency to be treated as a health and social issue rather than a criminal one, and said the NSW government's discussions of diversionary treatment, such as the three-strike proposal, was a "good first step".
"The change the government is proposing will make a difference to all people who use drugs by reducing the potential for a criminal record and encouraging referral to treatment," he said.
"Every family that I'm involved with there's somebody within that family who is either addicted to either illicit or legal drugs like alcohol, so this story, this experience of people who are addicted to drugs is not some third person issue,this is a first person issue.
"This is people we know, people we love, people in our community and people who are near to us, and that's why its such an important issue."
Reverend Hansford said drug addiction is particularly tough for victims in rural areas like Dubbo, where people are doubly victimised by the system.
First, they are addicted to the drug, then, they're punished by a health system that does not provide resources in regional areas.
Reverend Hansford, who has worked in rural and regional communities across NSW, including Dubbo between 1990 and 2003, said people wanting help are told support is hundreds of kilometres and a long waiting list away.
He said while they were "excited" after the announcement of funding for a drug rehab centre in Dubbo, he believed more needs to be done to ensure people who need help receive it immediately, and is available for them long term.
"The idea of the rehab space in Dubbo we think is fantastic, but we think we need to have one in Dubbo, Orange, Wagga, Tamworth, Armidale, Coffs Harbour, at all the major regional towns, so that people who want to come off drugs can," he said.
"For example if you're a drug addict, the chances are you won't make a step to come off for about 10 to 12 years, and when you do you need help immediately.
"But if you're a person in Nyngan or Bourke for example, and the nearest place is Sydney and you're an unmarried mum with two kids, how on earth are you going to get to Sydney and do that?.
"That's the challenge for people who are dependent on illicit drugs, it's that they actually have no resources to deal with it when they need to deal with it."
The Reverend also added drug treatment and how it's addressed by the community is "biased against the poor", which is why they're encouraging drug addiction should be treated as a health and social issue.
"If you're a wealthy lawyer and you take cocaine, or you're a wealthy doctor and you take some form of illicit drug, you're never going to be in strife," he said.
"But if you're a poor person on the streets or a single mum or dad, then the chances are you're going to suffer the wrath of the law far more than the person who is well off.
"If people are treated poorly, then the chances are they're not going to get supported or seek support."
The outcomes of the Ice Inquiry are yet to be released to the public due to COVID-19.