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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 494 ..


Mr Pettersson wrote in the Canberra Times on Saturday:

The first time I used cannabis I was 19 years old and excited to try something new. I had one pot brownie and fell asleep in the back of a movie theatre. The only attention I drew that day was from fellow cinema patrons.

My experience with cannabis did not result in the attention of law enforcement. For many, this is not the case.

I think I was possibly a little older. I might have made 20 when I first smoked dope and then grew my own. Through most of my 20s, as I have many times said, I lived in a community in Nimbin. Our experience with law enforcement was not at all like Mr Pettersson's. I can still remember the first police raid. The police came hidden in cattle trucks. They really shocked me by coming up to my place on a track that we had only cleared the day before. Very little cannabis was actually found. While many of us were arrested, in the end it was found that the search warrant was, in fact, illegal and nobody was convicted.

But this was not the end of police persecution. It continued over the years. Then in 1981 the helicopter raids began in northern New South Wales, in particular in the sky above me. Thousands of people in alternative communities from the Tweed to Bellingen were harassed by teams of police with helicopters and trail bikes. Not much cannabis was found overall, but it did seem to us that the war on drugs was really a war on us, a war on hippies, a war on the poor, a war on young people, a war on anyone who was different, and a payback for the anti-logging protests that led to many of the national parks in Northern New South Wales. That is my personal experience and it is very far from unique.

So from personal experience, one of the reasons I support legalising cannabis is that while it is illegal, cannabis offences can be and are used to target people who may not have any involvement with either cannabis or other illegal activity, or by making the possession of cannabis illegal it can turn otherwise law abiding citizens into potential criminals with all the negative impacts this has on the people concerned and society as a whole.

It also, of course, creates a lucrative black market which has been linked with much more problematical criminal activities. If you were cynical about this, you would wonder whether this was one of the reasons for it being illegal. However, on a more cheerful note, looking at Mr Pettersson's bill with the eyes of a Canberra gardener, I think that really we should be allowing artificial light and hydroponics.

Canberra is a very harsh environment for gardening. It is dry, with poor soils and major temperature extremes, in particular, frosts. To make it even more challenging, many of us live in apartments where there is not a garden with soil and you may need artificial light to grow anything at all. My point is simply that these people should have the same rights to grow cannabis as people who live in houses.

I am also concerned about the 50 gram limit. Mr Hanson dealt with this at some length earlier today. I share his concerns. I have read the legislation. I cannot quite


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