Saturday, July 28, 2007

How stupid drug laws get made

I received an email from Sandra Kanck's staff today - it's about the cultivation of controlled plants.
I got it because I was so pissed off about other issues she's raised being completely suppressed and ignored by the state government.

Basically, there's a pollie, Dennis Hood, who's trying to introduce harsher punishments for cultivating marijuana. On the face of it, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, is there?

In fact I'd have no trouble supporting what Dennis Hood was trying to do if it was based on anything resembling a sensible argument, either.

The problem with it is at least some of the people growing small quantities of majiuana are doing it for medical use - these aren't crime lords.

Dennis' argument is:
  • Other states are 'harsher' than us, so we should come into line with them.
  • Marijuana causes psychosis
The problem with the first is that it's an example of "fit in with everyone, otherwise we're a loser". This kind of high school popularity contest attitude has no place in policy.

The problem with the second is there are many examples of scientific argument which cast doubt on the link between psychosis and marijuana use. I'd be happy to wash my concerns away if Dennis were to provide his own scientific argument on this issue; but instead of doing that, he's relied on The Advertiser as his source of facts.

With that in mind, for him to:
... increase the penalties for cultivation to a fine of up to $10 000, imprisonment for two years, or both, for growing 10 plants or fewer.
seems absolutely stupid.

Back in 2002, the fine for cultivating a plant was $150 per plant. It doubled recently to $300 per plant. Up to $10,000 in total is a huge and almost unreasonable increase - a $7000 increase for the same maximum quantities.

If I were to grow marijuana, and I were to do it for pain alleviation, knowing that I could have to shell out $10,000 and spend two years in jail would scare the bejesus out of me. Sure, I probably wouldn't be growing 10 plants, but the threat still looms.

I wouldn't take the risk, personally - I'd just find someone else to buy it from.

So another issue here is that my money would go directly into the hands of exactly the people Dennis is trying to stop - organized criminals using marijuana as a revenue earner.

It's facts like:
Members may have seen a recent article in the Independ­ent Weekly which highlighted the potential (under the Criminal Assets Confiscation Act) for someone to lose their home, by growing just four marijuana plants.

that really stick in my craw, and make me wish that Family First wouldn't try to blindly apply their beliefs and opinions to everyone - in this case, trying to make it the law.

Read up yourselves, make your own minds up: Read the Wed 25th July's State Parliament Hansard.

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