Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 27 February 1990 for a third or fourth offence. That could easily have brought in an income of $150 000 to $200 000. Obvi ous 1y, the courts will treat the person with 1 marl Juana ci garette in his possession for a first or second offence far more leniently than the person who has been dea 1i ng wi th up to 2000 g of cannabi s. The suggestion that this legislation will put people in jail for many years for having 1 marijuana cigarette shows that members of the opposition are trying to denigrate the provisions of this legislation in order to curry flavour with their supporters, with their advisers or with people withwhom they deal. I think that it is most hypocritical. We need to be fair dinkum about what we are doing here. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority in its publication, 'Rethinking Drug Policy', said: 'Cannabis causes mental illness in some cases and makes schizophrenia worse. Smoking the drug causes chronic bronchitis and makes breathing more difficult. Prolonged heavy smoking of cannabis will probably cause lung cancer. Alcohol and cannabis cause a pattern of birth defects including mental retardation, growth deficiency and facial deformities'. We are becoming more aware of the problems that the drug causes in the same way that we are becoming more aware of the problems that alcohol and cigarettes cause. We are slowly controlling the use of tobacco. People are being prevented from using tobacco in certain areas. We are preventing and controlling alcohol use. We have communities in the Northern Territory where it is totally prohibited to possess it. As we become more enlightened, why should we be dishonest with young people by saying to them that it is okay to abuse this particular drug a little but it is not okay to abuse it in large amounts. That is crazy thinking. If members opposite want to go soft on marijuana, they should be fa i r di nkum and have the guts to say: ' Let's go soft on mari juana' . Other people have said it throughout the country. If they want to wave the flag, they should make it part of their election policy. Let the community know. They should say: 'If you elect us, we will remove this from the legislation. We will go soft on marijuana'. Don't walk around in circles about it. The truth is that people who abuse drugs, abuse their bodies and abuse the whole community. It costs everyone money. If we want to be fair dinkum in this Assembly, we must ensure that we introduce legislation that can operate. At present, we have a situation in which a Supreme Court judge made a pertinent comment in relation to a matter that was before him. He said that he knew that marijuana was smoked in a certain bar in a hotel in this town. He said most people in the town knew that marijuana was smoked there. The police knew of it, as did senior government people. He could not understand why that action could occur without people being prosecuted. The police were not arresting people for it, and he said the only reason that it could occur was because some very senior government official s, parliamentarians and police were involved in a cover-up. The reason it is able to occur is simple. It is because the present legislation is structured in such a way that it is impossible for police to be able to enter hotels and catch offenders in the act of us i ng the drug, sell i ng the drug or possessing the drug. As soon as police arrive, whatever is being held is dropped to the floor, and that is the end of the story. It is very simple. This legislation is extremely innovative. 8847