Pubdate: Wed, 14 May 2003
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2003 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Author: Simon Lenton


IT APPEARS that faced with a proposed scheme for cannabis use in WA that is 
balanced and based on evidence, opponents continue to sling mud in the hope 
that some will stick. The State Opposition's attempts to attack the WA 
Cannabis Control Bill by linking it to the Lambeth experiment are misleading.

Under the Lambeth pilot scheme police simply gave an informal verbal 
warning, seized cannabis, but issued no penalty. The scheme did not have 
legislative backing. There were serious problems with this approach. In 
contrast, the prohibition with civil penalties scheme proposed for WA is 
based on research from Australia and overseas, has legislative backing and 
would result in fines of between $100 and $200. It recognises that police 
will have power to bring a criminal charge against people who flout the scheme.

The new law will include comprehensive education about the risks of 
cannabis use and the laws which apply to it. There is no evidence that laws 
like those proposed lead more people to use cannabis. Robust, 
evidence-based debate about the proposed scheme is important, but political 
stunts and misrepresentation should be seen for what they are.


Senior research fellow,National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University. 
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