Leader of the Australian Sex Party and Victorian MP Fiona Patten has condemned the jail sentences handed down to seven Nimbin locals last week for selling cannabis as a pointless, life shattering waste of resources when other jurisdictions are basking in the success of tax-and regulate models.
Thirty men charged following Operation Cuppa last year appeared in the Lismore Local Court for sentencing last week, with seven receiving jail sentences, and the rest either having their matters adjourned, or receiving suspended sentences or good behaviour bonds.
The seven men who were given jail terms, Christopher Walsh, James Brown, Tobi Cox, Beau Grabovsky, Ryan Hawken, Ben Yasserie and Zachary Fuller lodged appeals against their sentences and were granted bail.
Speaking from Denver, Colorado, Ms Patten pointed to the $US 198.5 million in taxes collected by the state in 2016 alone, which has an economy comparable to Victoria.
‘Crumbling schools are being rebuilt, a special prosecution unit has been set up to target crime and new health programs tackling problem drug use are all being funded from the tax. Tens of thousands of new jobs have also been created,’ Ms Patten said.
‘Meanwhile Australia continues to cast itself in the same light as the Philippines, wanting to wage a war against adults who are aren’t causing any harm. It’s taking police resources away from real crime, clogging up the courts and wasting hundreds of millions of dollars.’
Media reports say the Richmond Local Area Commander devoted additional police resources to the case to find a few days of video from three months of CCTV footage as the video could only be accessed in 15 minute blocks.
‘Why do politicians think it’s a great use of resources to have police time wasted, sitting down, gazing at a screen to charge someone for something that is hurting no-one? Not to mention the cost of lawyers doing the same. It’s ridiculous,” Ms Patten said.
In handing down one of the jail terms Sydney-based Magistrate Alexander Mijovich, who travelled to Lismore at taxpayer cost, is reported to have described the offence as ‘one of the highest level offences under NSW law.’
‘It is disgraceful for any government to think cannabis is in the same category as rape or murder,’ Ms Patten said.
‘A ‘lock-up for pot’ policy is stupidity on steroids. I have recently met with police in Lisbon, London and Vancouver and we should listen to them. A justice system wasting so much time on non-violent drug crime helps no-one.
‘Rather than ruining people’s lives with a pointless prison sentence, the government should set its sights on the number of schools and hospitals it could build if it took the no-brainer step of taxing and regulating cannabis.’