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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 12 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3890..


Suspension of Standing and Temporary Orders

Motion (by Mr Moore ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent the adjournment debate extending beyond the 30 minute time limit.


Report No 7 of 2000

Debate resumed.

MR RUGENDYKE (7:33): I rise to support the majority of this report. It was a very exciting and interesting inquiry, and it was a privilege to be part of the committee that looked at the vexing issue of cannabis use, particularly among our youth. The genesis of this inquiry was the legislation I tabled some time ago to do away with the SCON system. I saw that as a practical remedy for a problem that I could see in practice as a police officer. Firstly, the SCON system gave the wrong message, in my view. The word "decriminalised" gave the wrong message. In fact, young people around this town have come to believe that using small amounts of cannabis is legal. That is something that I believe should be totally discouraged.

From this inquiry I learnt a great deal that I had not known or understood about cannabis and its problems. I have come a long way in changing my view on this issue. I now believe that to retain SCONs as a sanction is a good and useful tool, provided that there is a penalty. By that, I mean that the offence notices should be expiated in a way that shows young people that there is a consequence. For example, they should pay a fine, perhaps lose their licence for a time, if they have a licence, or perhaps do a little bit of community work to honour the sanction of the fine.

I was unable to fully support the majority report and provided a dissenting report on some issues that came out of deliberations. The chairman and I have a lot of similar views on this matter, but on a few issues we have some differences. One of those is the discretion that police use as a way of doing their work, something that I could not abandon.

There were other recommendations that I was unable to agree with. The key one of those is recommendation 11. I think it is very complex and unwieldy to attempt to deal with cannabis in the way the majority report recommends. From a practical policing perspective, I see the simple measure of five plants or 25 grams to be a very useful and simple - to - understand way of calculating cannabis. I agree with the South Australian experience of bringing the number of plants back to three. But the majority report had a different view that I was unable to support.

I could not agree either that hashish oil and hashish ought to be brought under the umbrella of the SCON system. It is my view that that type of cannabis substance is more for trafficking or high THC or heavy use, which I do not believe the SCON system would be useful for.

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