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Coalition welcomes Youth Parliament vote


29 August, 2000

Media Statement
For Immediate Release


Coalition welcomes Youth Parliament vote

The Coalition for Cannabis Law Reform (CCLR) believes the Youth Parliament’s decision to reject the mock Cannabis (Partial Decriminalisation for Personal Use) Bill by 69 to 47 votes sends a clear signal about proposals to introduce instant fines for cannabis possession.

Courtenay Mackie, Youth MP for Rod Donald said today, “Some MPs voted against the Bill because of the wording and because the conditions it imposed were ludicrous.” Many other youth MPs believe that the Bill did not go far enough.

Areti Metura-Mate, MP for Sue Kedgely said, “Partial decriminalisation is not good enough. Prohibition is the problem and this Bill fails to address it.”

Christopher Bishop, MP for Muriel Newman, who said, “I am shocked by high cannabis user rates supported this. These show that the current law has clearly failed. If we don’t change the status quo the problems associated with cannabis, such as use by minors, will continue. Instant fines isn’t the solution, we need a system that will control the cannabis market such as a regulation model.”

The mock Bill provided for infringement notices and fines for possession of 5 grams of cannabis for personal use, maintaining the illegality of holding cannabis in a public place. The definition of public place was problematic and the whole notion of instant fines raised significant issues.

“This model is one that has been rejected by the Coalition and we are pleased to see the Youth Parliament reject it too. An instant fine model would discriminate against those on lower incomes who are unable to pay their fines and it could cause serious backlogs in the courts. This Bill also failed to address the issue of access to cannabis by young people because the criminal element would have retained control of the highly profitable cannabis black market.

“Our submissions to the Youth Parliament Justice Select Committee raised these points in no uncertain terms and it appears that the thinking people amongst the youth MPs have taken this on board,” CCLR member Deborah Morris said today.

“It is entirely possible that Youth MPs would have been more comfortable to support a different cannabis law reform model from the one proposed in this Bill. In the event that the vote had been taken on a regulation model providing for a minimum legal age of 18 and with controlled supply of the drug, the vote may well have been different,” said Les Gray, CCLR spokesperson.

“Nevertheless, we applaud the rejection of this Bill and we hope it will send a strong message to proponents of instant fines. That model has failed dismally in Australia and the Youth Parliament is saying that it is not an option we should pursue here. Instead of this half-way house, parliament needs to consider alternative models such as regulation,” Mr Gray said.


Ends

Contact: Les Gray (09) 436-2349 or (021) 436-234 or Deborah Morris (025) 544-299

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