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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 211..

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: I present the following paper:

Drugs of Dependence Amendment Bill 2004-Exposure Draft.

I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: I have tabled an exposure draft for a bill to legalise the medically condoned use of cannabis. Members will be aware of the New South Wales government's stated intention to do so. They will also be aware of various campaigns on this issue around Australia, including campaigns by several branches of the Country Women's Association. Members also would be aware that there are many jurisdictions across the world where the medicinal use of cannabis is permitted, and of others where there is continuing pressure for legislation to allow the medicinal use of cannabis. I have taken the route of an exposure draft as it will give us all in this place, in government and in the community, a model of a workable scheme from which to start our discussions.

The Drugs of Dependence Amendment Bill would amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 by inserting a new part which provides for permits to be issued on medical advice for people to treat themselves with cannabis. The bill also provides for the patient or the care giver to grow up to two plants for the personal use of the patient.

This bill is modelled on a bill introduced, but not debated, by the Greens in the Western Australian parliament in the last term, and is similar to legislation in Canada and several parts of the United States. The legislation departs from schemes such as the one in the Netherlands, which is dependent upon government supply of cannabis, and the scheme mooted by New South Wales, which appears to rely on the medical supply of a cannabis spray which is being developed in the United States.

Other than giving permission for the growing of a limited amount of cannabis, this bill is mute on the issue of supply. It simply takes away the opprobrium and illegality of the possession and use of a small amount of cannabis for those people who, it can be reasonably argued, would benefit medically from some use of cannabis. I point out that this bill does not legalise the recreational use of cannabis.

Members would be aware that I am a co-spokesperson of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform, whose members range from Bob Katter MP; Senator Garry Humphries and the Northern Territory Leader of the Opposition, Terry Hills MLA, at one end of the nominal spectrum to Senator Allison, Giz Watson MLC from Western Australia, and co-spokesman Duncan Kerr MP at the other end. The group also includes seven members of this Assembly.

I think it would be helpful to quote a small relevant piece from the policy paper released by the group towards the end of last year. It says:

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