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Byron Shire
December 7, 2022

Editorial – Where’s the drug reform?

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While the rest of the planet seems to understand that cannabis is a healing magical plant, as well as a superior fibre for clothing and building materials, it’s as if most of those who inhabit NSW parliament have no clue. Or even care.

On October 12, the Legislative Council of NSW debated the Road Transport Amendment (Medical Cannabis – Exemptions from Offences) Bill 2021.

Its intention, as put forward by Cate Faehrmann (NSW Greens), ‘was to provide a defence from drug driving detection laws for medicinal cannabis patients using in accordance with their prescription’.

Dean of Law at SCU, David Heilpern, explained to his social media followers, ‘Only the Greens supported the Bill – the ALP, Liberals, Nationals, One Nation and Fred Nile all voted against’.

He said, ‘There is already a defence for medicinal morphine in NSW, and a THC defence for prescribed medicine exists in Tasmania, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Ireland, many US states, and New Zealand. This was a most minimalist proposal’.

Heilpern then expertly demolished the many ill-informed and confused statements made by MPs of all political persuasions. 

It’s all recorded on Hansard for those interested.

Fun fact, the war against people who take drugs is relatively new in this country. 

The first Australian drug law was an 1857 Act ‘imposing an import duty on opium’, according to www.unharm.org.

The website gives an account of the history of Australian drug laws, written by Lismore lawyer, Steve Bolt, in 2010. 

Bolt writes of the opium law, ‘The primary purpose of the laws was clearly to discourage the entry of Chinese people to Australia, rather than to restrict the importation of opium itself’.

‘The first laws restricting opium were carefully worded to apply to opium in smokable form only—not opium as it was taken by the European population’.

As for cannabis, Bolt says cannabis plants ‘were sent to Australia by Sir Joseph Banks on the First Fleet, in the hope that the new colony might grow enough hemp to supply the British Navy with rope’. 

‘Cannabis was not consumed on a large scale (although it was readily available for sale as cigarettes called ‘Cigares de Joy’ until the 1920s). 

‘Cannabis importation and use was prohibited by federal legislation in 1926 (implementing the 1925 Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs), with the states adopting similar prohibition in the following years’.

Bolt also says, ‘Ironically, heroin, cannabis, and other drugs were prohibited in Australia well before their use became a major social issue’.

Not all drugs are bad. 

‘In fact some are great’, said legendary comedian, Bill Hicks.

What will make ill-informed and clearly hypocritical and compromised politicians change their minds so that those who need medicinal cannabis for pain relief won’t be fined if they drive?

It’s ironic that bill was defeated in the same week the brother of Deputy Premier and NSW Minister for Police, Paul Toole (Nationals), was just charged with heading a meth syndicate. And meth is perhaps the worst of drugs.

Hans Lovejoy, editor

News tips are welcome: [email protected]

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  1. The recent investigations into the Star Casino found the Casino facilitated the laundering of money by organised crime gangs.
    Instead of closing the Casino and cancelling it’s licence and charging the Board and executive officers with criminal offences, the Government applied a fine, installed a manager and let it keep operating. and collecting the tax revenue.
    The NSW government is obviously benefitting from the procedes of crime, and protecting criminal interests, while prosecuting the ordinary citizens that fall into it’s unjust drug laws net.
    A very two faced approach.

  2. I can’t see you getting any argument on the blatant truth of your article Hans, but …. can you spot the error ?
    ” most of those who inhabit NSW parliament have no clue. Or even care.”, should read …
    All of those who inhabit NSW parliament have no clue. Or even care. that is where minds go to die.
    Cheers, G”)

  3. Note: at recent Sydney event that atracted 100,000, over 500,000 hits of drugs were taken by the attendees. The drug they used physically attacks and poisons all the body’s organs, is highly addictive, causes death from overdose and long term use, is associated with repressing personal constraints on violence, damages growing fetuses, causes road accidents…. I’ll ring the Minister of Police, oh no, that drug was alcohol, and anyway he is probably distracted at the moment, with his two sons on drug distribution charges.

  4. It’s not a coincidence that the only place in Australia where weed and other drugs have been decriminalised has been the capital… The place all the politicians with power reside…


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