Here’s an interesting development in the UK on sentencing for drug dealing and possession. Have a squizz for yourself, but here’s the gist:
People who buy drugs to share with friends could avoid prison under guidance that also recognises medical use of cannabis.
Recreational drug users who naively buy small quantities to share with their friends could avoid jail under sentencing guidelines for drug offences published on Tuesday.
If people are buying small quantities of drugs to share with a friend - should it be a big deal?
Some Australian jurisdictions have, for instance, decriminalised minor cannabis offences. Should it be like that nationwide? Possession remains a criminal offence throughout most of the country, although it’s often up to the police officer whether to charge a non-violent offender or divert them into an education/assessment/treatment program. Is that fair? What do you think?
There’s some more information at the bottom of the post for you to make up your own mind. And hey, it’s Wednesday. What’s happening in your world today?
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The so-called Bali Boy is back in Australia. It is only a matter of time before he turns up on the idiot box for an exclusive tell-all interview, promoted by whatever ratings-hungry network shells out the cash, as a cautionary tale which no parent and no teenager can afford to miss.
It is of course a story which most Australian parents and teenagers can very much afford to miss. Most Australian parents and teenagers would not be so breathtakingly foolish as to land in a country renowned for executing the most minor of drug offenders, and immediately shell out the requisite rupiah for a bag of Balinese dope.
Outside of this majority there is a disturbingly large subculture in Australia which has been brought into focus by this case. It’s a subculture which has two notable features. The first is the extent to which cannabis use has been normalised, where it is barely regarded as a drug at all but as something which most people will smoke without consequence from a young age. So much so that we wind up with the spectacle of a 14-year-old boy standing before an Indonesian court revealing that he has become addicted to the drug, right under the nose of his parents.
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Australia has a long standing love affair with cannabis. More than half of us have tried it, 10 to 15 per cent smoke it at least once a day and five per cent of us love it so much, we find it hard to do anything else.
Our biggest problem is that we’re passing the habit on. Sixty per cent of young people use it. And they’re starting young; more Australian 12 year olds have tried it than cigarettes.
In other words, dope is getting to kids so quick and none of the people supplying it to them are identifying the considerable risks.
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If Australian cities could be defined by an aroma, you might pick jasmine for Sydney, tropical rain for Brisbane, coffee for Melbourne. While Adelaide would probably stump for an earthy shiraz or a fragrant bunch of Ross roses, the sad reality is that for many Adelaide households the defining aroma is the sickly stench of bong water.
The do-nothing culture of Adelaide’s sizeable unemployed underclass has been defined in large part by one of Australia’s greatest public policy failures – the liberalised cannabis laws which normalised the daily use of marijuana. Equally, the explosion in the size and reach of biker gangs in the City of Churches was fuelled by those laws, which for a long time enabled a virtual franchising of backyard dope production through hydroponics.
Even today, now that the laws have been tightened, there are more hydroponic shops in Adelaide per capita than any other city in the land. One website says there are more shops here per capita than any other city in the world, including Vancouver, where cannabis is decriminalised. According to one pro-cannabis website I read this week, there’s about 40 of these stores in the metropolitan area alone.
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You would think a drug that causes more than one in ten suicides, thousands of child abuse cases, and one in three road accidents would be outlawed.
Not chance, of course, because that’s alcohol. Cannabis, on the other hand, mostly causes feelings of wellbeing.
Debate over the relative harms of drugs has been raging this week. Most of the debate has been in the UK, where government drug advisor Professor David Nutt has been sacked for, in essence, arguing that drugs should be categorised according to the harm they cause. Crazy, huh?
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