SUPPORTING DECRIMINALISATION: Dubbo Regional Council deputy mayor Stephen Lawrence says he supports a decision to legalise cannabis for personal use. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
Dubbo residents should be legally able to own small amounts of cannabis, the city's deputy mayor believes.
Councillor Stephen Lawrence says he backs laws passed in the ACT last week, which make it legal to possess 50 grams of cannabis and grow two plants per person from January 31, 2020.
"I'm certainly not advocating the legalisation of the supply and distribution of drugs, nor of the possession of anything other than very small quantities," Cr Lawrence said.
"The focus of the criminal law and policing should be on drug dealers who make large amounts of money off the misery and death of people.
"I think that when one is talking about people who possess very small quantities of drugs, there is nothing of a positive nature achieved through applying the criminal law to them."
Why any jurisdiction would pass a law which effectively encourages more use of a drug like this is beyond me.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter.
To help them kick the habit, drug addicts should be given education and rehabilitation, Cr Lawrence said.
"In Portugal they have decriminalised possession of illicit drugs and their rate of illicit drug use has dropped," he claimed.
"In this area of policy the things people might think work, in terms of reducing use, are not actually what works."
According to Cr Lawrence, community members should "put to one side what might make us feel good morally or what we might think works in a 'common sense' way, because those approaches are actually shown to increase usage".
Cr Lawrence said while he did not expect the current NSW government to legalise cannabis, he did think it was a matter of time before other states followed the lead of the ACT.
"I think this issue is a bit like gay marriage...at one point gay marriage looked like it was a long way off then things all of a sudden changed very quickly.
"My sense certainly from my involvement in the Labor Party is that views on drug policy are liberalising extremely quickly and there is a determination to get in place policies that work."
The federal government is reportedly considering overturning the new ACT law.
"The documented, scientific evidence about the sustained use of it [marijuana] causing extreme mental health problems, including psychosis, is just beyond doubt," Attorney-General Christian Porter told Macquarie Media.
"Why any jurisdiction would pass a law which effectively encourages more use of a drug like this is beyond me," he said.
"The idea that you can use any amount of it safely or that it doesn't lead to addiction and long term serious health consequences- to me, it's not a drug that you want to make easier to access and cheaper to access. I think it's crazy."
Originally published here: https://www.dailyliberal.com.au/story/6412746/why-dubbos-deputy-mayor-backs-cannabis-law-change/