Personal recreational marijuana use should be decriminalised. Picture: Peter Clark
A CAMPAIGN to decriminalise recreational cannabis use throughout NSW has been launched by Sydney state Independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Mr Greenwich, who has denied ever using the drug himself, said he would advocate for criminal restrictions around marijuana use to be relaxed.
“Cannabis is not something I have had a relationship with but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the need for a harm minimisation approach,” he said.
He told Central Sydney that international examples of decriminalisation had made an impression on him.
Mr Greenwich said laws in NSW were “(some) of the harshest approaches to recreational cannabis use in the country”.
Cannabis use “does not harm third parties”, says Alex Greenwich.
In a speech to Parliament given earlier this month Mr Greenwich said cannabis use “does not harm third parties, it does not arouse aggression, and it is not addictive or expensive enough to encourage crime”
“Most cannabis users consume the drug occasionally,” he said.
“Criminal sanctions and the cost of fines and legal representation can have major repercussions, including those on a person’s job prospects and liberty,” he said.
Mr Greenwich pointed to the number of police resources funnelled into the detection of cannabis — resources that he said could be better invested in harm minimisation and tackling drug addiction issues.
“Cannabis use in the community is much higher than other drugs, while its contribution to crime is very low,” he said in his speech.
Mr Greenwich said he understood the desire in the community to have the use of cannabis legalised.
“My job as an Independent MP for Sydney is to represent the values and concerns of the community in Parliament,” Mr Greenwich said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard disagrees with Mr Greenwich.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he disagreed wholeheartedly with the proposal.
“I have seen up close and personal people’s lives destroyed by using the so-called safe drug marijuana, which is so often anything but safe,” Mr Hazzard said.
“I know the medical jury is out but I don’t have any doubt that there are risks associated with the use of cannabis, particularly in regards to switching on (mental health issues),” he said.
Mr Hazzard ruled out discussion on the relaxation of laws around recreational cannabis use but said he was open to the “much more sophisticated discussion about the appropriate use of (medical) marijuana”.