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Pot penalties could match ice

GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL: The maximum penalties for possessing, supplying and trafficking marijuana could rise if a proposed State Government amendment becomes law. THE State Government has proposed that penalties for marijuana users and dealers should be the same for those who use and supply heroin and ice. State Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath made the proposal last week, along with 35 other recommended amendments, in response to the Queensland Organised Crime Commission of Inquiry, commissioned by Michael Byrne QC. The report suggested that courts "omit the current distinction" between schedule one and schedule two drugs. Ms D'Ath accepted that maximum penalties should be the same for all "dangerous drugs". At present, schedule one drugs include heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, ice, LSD, MDMA and steroids. Schedule two drugs include marijuana, morphine and ketamine. Mackay solicitor Geoff Govey said the proposal was unnecessary and potentially dangerous. "It's pretty obvious that some drugs are more harmful than others... for instance ice, amphetamine, heroin as opposed to a drug such as cannabis," he said. "It's dangerous to lump soft drugs into the same category as hard drugs." Mr Govey said he supported some of the other recommended amendments, such as providing more resources to police and extending the definition of dangerous drugs to include synthetic drugs. "All those I can see some sort of sense in, but I just can't see the sense in having all drugs labelled as dangerous," he said. The report said the current two-schedule regime "raises a risk for inconsistency in scheduling", and stated that there was a need for simpler drugs laws. "This change in legislation would not impact upon low-level users of drugs and drug addicts who have possession for their own use," it stated. The report said the Northern Territory was the only other Australian jurisdiction where different dangerous drugs were treated differently. Another Mackay solicitor said if the recommendation became law it could have a "significant" impact on the way drugs were dealt with by courts. The proposed 35 amendments are expected to be drafted this year. Check the poll here...

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