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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1640 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, I seek leave to have my speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows:

Mr Speaker, on 7 December 2000, Mr Bill Wood MLA, tabled in the Legislative Assembly, the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care's Report No 7-Cannabis Use in the ACT.

In its Report, the Standing Committee made twelve key recommendations, relating to the use of cannabis, the possible health consequences, the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice scheme and the laws pertaining to the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis.

The Government welcomes this report and it has the broad agreement of Government.

We support the recommendations related to the evaluation of the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice scheme; the expansion of public information and education programs and, within this context, the evaluation of the Effective Weed Control group; the articulation of a cannabis policy; and the development of an education and cautioning system for juveniles.

There are in place in the ACT, a number of education, early intervention, detoxification, counselling, case management and rehabilitation services for people with cannabis-use dependencies and problems. In particular, I would like to draw the Assembly's attention to the new DRIC@College Program, managed by Assisting Drug Dependents Incorporated, involving an educator "on site" on a regular basis during school terms at all Government colleges.

The program is designed to assist students who either "drop-in" to talk to the counsellor, or who are referred by staff. This program has been piloted in recent years at two colleges, and has been overwhelmingly successful at engaging students who may be involved in substance abuse. It has the strong support of students, staff and parents, and will promote both medical and legal concerns related to cannabis use. This program will concentrate this year on educating our young people about the dangers of cannabis and about the legal status of cannabis in the ACT.

The Government shares the Committee's concerns about messages relayed to the community, and especially to our young people, in relation to the legal standing of cannabis in the ACT.

We acknowledge that in the ACT the approach to cannabis legislation has at times been confused as "decriminalisation". The Government will address the issues of terminology, which we acknowledge are more accurately described as partial prohibition with pecuniary penalties. However, in reinforcing the exact nature of the law in relation to simple cannabis offences, care must be taken that words which replace "decriminalisation" are not in fact even more confusing to the public. The Government will therefore carefully reconsider the wording of any current printed

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