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Western Australia Toughens Marijuana Laws

Marching boldly backward into the 20th Century, the Liberal-National state government in Western Australia announced Sunday that it will put into place more repressive marijuana laws as of August 1. Western Australia had effectively decriminalized the possession of up to 30 grams of pot under the previous Labor government, with violators ticketed and fined between $100 and $200.

But Police Minister Rob Johnson said those "relaxed, soft drug laws" would be repealed and replaced by a tougher regime. "What it will mean is that those people caught with cannabis will not simply get a slap on the wrist," he told reporters.

Under the new law, the personal use amount will shrink to 10 grams, and people caught with those small amounts will not be ticketed, but referred to court and will receive a Cannabis Intervention Requirement to attend a mandatory counseling session. People possessing more than 10 grams will face up to two years in prison or a $2,000 fine. Persons possessing more than 100 grams (less than a quarter-pound) will be charged with the Australian equivalent of possession with intent to distribute and could face up to two years in prison or a $20,000 fine.

But wait, there's more: Under Labor, the possession of up to two pot plants was treated as a ticketable offense, while under the new law, violators will face up to two years in prison. The new law also criminalizes pot paraphernalia sales, with fines of up to $10,000 for sales to adults and a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to $24,000 for sales to minors.

The Liberal-National government had complained that under the existing system, 95% of those ticketed chose to pay "the equivalent of a parking ticket" instead of attending educational sessions. "Hardly anybody ever turned up, so it just didn't work," Johnson said, adding that nearly a third of those who chose to be fined never paid up.

The Liberal-National state government has made its fight against illegal drugs a signature issue, and Johnson was in fine form Sunday. Johnson said to expect more drug initiatives in the near future. The rising number of methamphetamine labs in Western Australia is a hot issue, but it was all about marijuana Sunday.

"The amount of toxicity in cannabis is enormous these days and it's very damaging to people's brains," he said. "It can cause schizophrenia and create terrible mental health problems. The heady days of growing, rolling and smoking your own that was allowed under the previous Labor government are over," he said. "Under the new scheme, anyone caught will have no option but to attend a one-on-one intensive Cannabis Intervention Session within 28 days of the offense or face prosecution through the courts."

But opposition Labor Party police issues spokeswoman Margaret Quirk told the Sydney Morning Herald the government's move toward more repressive pot policies was misguided and an effort to deflect criticism over harder drugs.

"The only reason the government is making a big fuss of these laws now is it's under increasing pressure in relation to the growing amphetamine problem," she said, adding that drug labs were exploding in the Perth suburbs." The new pot laws were a "nice, symbolic thing for the government to do to show they're tough on drugs" but it was much harder to get on top of the amphetamine problem, she said. "It's all about the smoke and mirrors, it's not about really targeting our laws where they're needed," Quirk said.

Labor wasn't alone in criticizing the new law. The Australian Lawyers Alliance quickly stepped up to rip into it.

"There is nothing novel about this approach," Alliance spokesman for Western Australia Tom Percy told Western Australia Today. "It will take no toll against crime. We're fighting an old war, lost a long time ago. To say you plan to fight drugs by increasing penalties is like going into a nuclear war armed with medieval weapons. It makes no difference and is nothing more than a political stunt. It's hardly a serious act that will have the drug overlords quaking in their boots," he said. "A public campaign will be far more successful than increasing the penalties."

For a few years in the past decade, Western Australia was looked to as an example of how to implement progressive marijuana law reforms. Not any more, at least not until the current state government is replaced.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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This is way for these broke

This is way for these broke economies to get (read: extort) more money.  It is sick that these politicians think that they can continue to use and ABUSE the drug user base for their economic mismanagement.  So getting caught with pot goes from $100 or so fine to $2000, and upwards to 20,000?  Gee, that seems simple to figure out why the government is cracking down.  And they want to create further 'cash flow' to the system by bringing in lawyers and courts, and the whole chain of criminal justice.

Until there is a humanitarian approach to drug use and abuse established, especially for marijuana, drug users are going to be horribly exploited and used for unrelated political agendas and scams.  What these governments don't get is that they could finally get 'real' about marijuana, and reap huge inflows of tax dollars, and treat their citizens as human beings, instead of a resource to be mined.  Also, economic health is largely psychological, despite monetary policies; giving citizens more freedom and a new economic boost could be highly instrumental in pulling out of recessions and depressions.  But these governments would rather just steal it from the people.

"It's hardly a serious act that will have the drug overlords ...

"It's hardly a serious act that will have the drug overlords quaking in their boots,"


It's an act that will have them writing Thank you letters.

The reefer madness hypothesis

Here's an interesting conversation with Dr. Matthew Large regarding flaws in his reefer madness study:

Gov. idiots

This is what happens when people take a hands off approach to the folk`s that govern them.  The U.S.A. is the poster child example.

Just imagine..

To really get a grasp of the absurdity of the war on (some)drugs, just image that 'Cannabis' was replaced with 'beer':

"Under the new law, the personal use amount will shrink to 1 beer, and people caught with a beer will not be ticketed, but referred to court and will receive an Alcohol Intervention Requirement to attend a mandatory counseling session..

The new law also criminalizes beer paraphernalia sales, with fines of up to $10,000 for sales to adults and a prison sentence of up to two years or a fine of up to $24,000 for sales to minors... of anyone found selling branded beer glasses, beer mats or any type of beer cooling system, including refrigerators"

Just imagine the outcry over the elimination of civil liberties for a drug that is considered 'acceptable' by the establishment(s)... it really is insanity, hypocritical insanity...

Revenue raising

This is nothing else  but revenue raising IMHO . Everyone knows that the war on drugs is lost and  pot should never even be called a drug !  Alcohol is bad , addictive , health destroying  and brings with it endless crime . So do many other drugs like amphetamines and lots of pharmaceutical drugs that are "legal " . But they are all very profitable and dull peoples  brains so to become easily led and brainwashed . Organic pot never creates any problems and is actually a good remedy for many illnesses . In these days of doublespeak BS is made into law and enforced by idiots . Where will it stop ? At the end of civilization ? 

Democratic Society

Should there not be a referendum called on this to see what the people want. Sure we employ these people to run our state, but we the people should be allowed to call the shots,..........shouldn't we. I think if they were to call a referendum that they may get a shock, and what about all the criminal records this may create, for no other reason other than recreational use, Johnny cant get a job as a security guard because he got busted for possession of cannabis two years ago. Jimmy cant enter America cos he grew a plant for his own use and the law made him a criminal. At this rate Australia will end up all criminals. Cant get into the Defence Force  because you got busted........your a criminal. I think the people should be asked what they want, it shouldn't be left to the few. We have suposedly a democratic society.

Now there's more money in it

Now there's more money in it for EVERYONE! But the most will be the "accredited schools" for "counseling" and when one cannot pay 2-20K, the home will have to be sold.. and friends of the "law" will be there to help with the sale, lol. This might as well go back to way it was, why just go back half way??? oh yeah, a little at a time!

I'm based in Sydney and find

I'm based in Sydney and find this sort of political action totally misguided. Sure its a known fact that drugs cause damage when abused yet the majority of people are awake of the risks and benefits associated with its use. It's a reasonable decision to leave choice up to educated adults. Personally I have been charged with 2 possession offenses and held a respectable well paid job in the finance sector. After 8 months of service and a promotion due to outstanding performance I was fired due to my record. Never once did I miss a day of work and I was considered a model employee. your ideology damages a productive citizen by making me a criminal

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