West Australia Enacts Mandatory Minimums for Marijuana

Changes to West Australia's Misuse of Drugs Act that came into effect last weekend are shifting the state from among Australia's most marijuana-friendly to one with the most draconian punishments. People convicted of growing a single pot plant or processing the herb could face a mandatory minimum one-year sentence if a child was endangered or suffered harm.

West Australia succumbs to "reefer madness"
People convicted of a second drug offense, even if they were growing only one plant, face a six-month mandatory minimum if by doing so, they endangered a child's health by exposing him to the activity. People could get the mandatory minimum, for example, if a child is exposed to fertilizers or pesticides, if he cut himself on gardening equipment, or if he knocked over a potted marijuana plant and injured himself. In passing the amendments, West Australia is criminalizing and harshly punishing acts that would be considered accidents, or, at worst, incidents that could be investigated for child endangerment, if any other plant were involved.

That's a sea change from last year, when people who were caught growing one or two marijuana plants faced a maximum $150 fine and drug counseling. The amendment is ostensibly aimed at clandestine drug labs -- meth lab busts happened at a rate of every other day in the state last year -- but they also target those who "cultivate or prepare illicit drugs," including marijuana.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Rob Johnson told the Australian AP that it was "unlikely" small-time users and growers with children would be sentenced under the provision, but there was still a risk.

"If the children are exposed to dangerous chemicals and safety hazards as a result of the cultivation or are injured by the cultivation, the new provisions could be applied," the spokeswoman said.

But the West Australia Law Society criticized the mandatory minimums, saying they removed any discretion in sentencing and were open to abuse.

"You might even find that where the judicial system does not agree with a mandatory jail term for a small-time cannabis grower and user, there will be a reluctance to prosecute or convict," a society spokesman said. "As it stands, the punishment would certainly not fit the crime and would appear to be excessive."

The opposition Labor Party, which had championed the state's earlier progressive marijuana laws, tried to have it both ways. The party voted for the amendments because it didn't want to be seen as "soft on crime," but tried to change the legislation to remove mandatory minimums for marijuana growers and users, spokeswoman Michelle Roberts told the AAP. Failing that, Labor voted for it anyway.

And Labor leader Mark McGowan said he disagreed with the new provisions. "Personally, I wouldn't like to see people go to jail, mandatorily, if they're growing a couple of marijuana plants -- even though we support laws to ensure that is made an offense," he said.

While Labor can share the credit -- or blame -- for passage of the amendments, the bulk of the responsibility lies with the ruling Liberal-National coalition government, which pushed the legislation as part of its "tough on crime" agenda.

The law contains "obvious injustices," Labor spokeswoman Roberts said. "It won't stop drug cultivation -- there's no evidence to suggest that," she said. "What it's going to do is wrap up a whole lot of people unwittingly into a situation where they are facing a mandatory jail term. It's a huge cost to the community -- hundreds of thousands of dollars to incarcerate both parents and to take a child or children into care," she said. And it doesn't actually deal with the main issue," which she identified as drug addiction.

Perth
Australia
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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and then these pieces of garbage go home and drink booze

they're so stupid they probably really believe alcohol isn't a drug.

investing in crime

 

This is not tough on crime; laws like this are an investment in crime. 

Taking mainly young, naïve, non-violent people and giving them a criminal record is initiating and apprenticing them to a club they can never leave. And prison is university for a criminal career. Talk about an investment in our kids futures. 

And what is the result? 

Millions of people the world over with terminal  illness have to live in agony and die prematurely without the drugs best for them and this happens as the result of widespread persecution and harassment of minority groups in the community. That makes prohibition a crime against humanity. 

The oppression and lawfully required extinction of plant species with cultural, medical and economic importance; amounts to acts of genocide. 

How is it that we have these supposedly intelligent people in public office who seem incapable of reviewing information and making reasonable decisions without consideration for the consequences? The police are an aggressive, violent and powerful force not to be misused. With that kind of power you have to be very cautious how you use it because you are responsible for what happens. 

When you overstep the mark you are violating people’s right and that is a crime. The politician who raises his hand is responsible just as much as the cop who pulls the trigger and the judge who bangs his hammer. If a law does not help and causes harm to people and communities, it is a crime just like any malicious act committed by any individual. 

So be careful how you use power because when you fail to consider the consequences you leave yourself open to prosecution at a later time. 

Time to end the drug war. 

Legalize! Apologize! Compensate! 

DdC's picture

POLICING FOR PROFIT

The majority of prohibitionists profit on the drug war, and that is their only motive.

Heston died, NRA's Mandatory Minimum Didn't

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Life in Jail for Ganja

Koch Roaches A.L.E.C. Drug Detention Centers

"A great deal of intelligence
can be invested in ignorance
when the need for illusion is deep."
-- Saul Bellow

POLICING FOR PROFIT 1997 fear.org
THE DRUG WAR'S HIDDEN ECONOMIC AGENDA

* The Drug War Industrial Complex April, 1998 Noam Chomsky
* Who Profits From Drugs February 21, 1989 pbs.org
* Who Really Profits From Drug Cartel Wars? February 21, 2011
* How America Lost the War on Drugs March 24, 2011 Rolling Stone
* The War Next Door 11-03-2008 dosenation
* INSTITUTIONS THROUGH WHICH CONTROL IS EXERCISED 1992
* White Paper: Drug Testing Results Often Inaccurate, Unreliable norml.org
* Arianna Huffington: Drug War a 'War on Our Own People'

"Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy ... and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with 'scientific support' ... fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. ... The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents."
-- William F. Buckley,
Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

It is indeed high time that

It is indeed high time that the Australian government made a strong decision regarding the drug abuse, in particular the wide spread use of marijuana. I do hope that these stringent measures helps to make the people shy away from marijuana. snoring causes

stoned

Wow. Our law makers have taken us back to the non- stoned age. mary

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