Pubdate: Sat, 16 Jun 2001
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 News Limited
Author: Greg Kelton, State Political Reporter


LIBERAL backbenchers say they are close to forcing the State
Government to toughen up the state's marijuana laws.

Senior Liberals, including ministers, are disturbed by the growing use
of marijuana and want the three-plant limit dropped to zero.

Details of the mounting pressure in government ranks emerged as the
Australian Democrats yesterday called for regulation, rather than
continued prohibition, to help contain marijuana use.

While marijuana is still illegal in SA, people who grow three plants
or less at home for personal use can escape a criminal sentence by
paying an expiation fee.

Backbencher Martin Hamilton-Smith said marijuana use and growing of
the drug in SA was "just a joke".

Australian Democrats Leader Mike Elliott said governments should learn
from the regulated use of alcohol and tobacco. He said research showed
harsher penalties and more policing did not reduce marijuana use.

"The Democrats support the regulation approach because it will free
up police resources, reduce drug-related crime, save government money
and, most of all, because, as studies show, it will mean less people
using marijuana," he said.

Police Minister Robert Brokenshire said Mr Elliott should "come out
into the electorate and talk to people whose children have been
affected by marijuana use".

"Most of the studies I have seen show that marijuana is the thin end
of the wedge when it comes to drug use," the minister said.
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