In June I wrote this one: Medical Marijuana, and so with an Australian boy having faced a Bali court, it is perhaps now timely to once again reflect on this issue, and while empathy with the boy is certainly warranted it also poses the question: what happens to someone in Australia caught with a similar small amount of cannabis.
The most recent data comes from the Australian Crime Commission’s annual illicit drug report for 2010 which provides that there were 57,170 arrests of adults and minors for cannabis possession, being over 1,000 people a week.
To be specific, this is not trafficking and not supply, but possession for personal consumption only.
When compared with countries such as Indonesia and a number of other countries in our region, a significant proportion of these people are likely to receive as a penalty a caution, a fine or diversion into education or treatment.
However, as the stats prove if a person is indigenous, then it is more likely they will join the ranks of those charged and brought before the court system. A conviction for any criminal offence can have lifelong consequences. For example, try obtaining employment with a ”drug conviction” where applications have a requirement about drugs use and criminal convictions, or try travelling to the US and a number of other countries if you have a drug record. This is no matter how minor the offence or how long ago it occurred.
Yet the mainstream media would constantly call for harsher penalties, to come down tough on… and an example comes from WA premier praises tougher drug penalties
Perth would be absolute mayhem without West Australian Police Minister Rob Johnson’s hardline approach to illegal drugs, Premier Colin Barnett says.
The premier was defending Mr Johnson after claims the government’s tough new penalties for possessing cannabis will have no impact on the use of the drug in the community.
From August 1 harsher penalties for possessing, growing or selling cannabis would replace what Mr Johnson labelled the “relaxed, soft drug laws” of the previous Labor government.
Under the new laws, people will face heftier fines and possible jail for possessing 10 grams of cannabis.
Simplistic solutions to complex problems. Throw young people into jail and especially young Indigenous people, appease public demands whipped up by the frenetic bleatings of people who have absolutely no idea of the consequences often lifelong consequences of ‘coming down hard on’, something which is almost always a victimless crime.
If you want to see the consequences of ‘coming down hard on’ means in real life, then I would suggest: visit Bali.