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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1513

Senator HARRADINE (4.08 p.m.) —I was very impressed with Senator Wood's contribution to this debate, particularly in respect of the harm of smoking marijuana. I come from the trade union area too, where there is a growing concern about the problems of smoking marijuana and safe work practices.

  I want now to directly address the motion before us. I am inclined to vote for this motion. I would not vote for the motion if I saw it as a motion in support of decriminalisation of marijuana smoking or usage. I do not see it as that; and I presume that the AMA does not see it as that. What it does see is that there is harm in the use of cannabis. Also, there are health consequences, and consequences of imprisonment, for offenders. The motion says in part:

imprisonment should be replaced by compulsory rehabilitation programs.

I would have thought also that subsumed in that is the system of work orders as an alternative to a sentence of imprisonment. Nothing in the AMA resolution indicates to me that it is in favour of the decriminalisation of marijuana.

  Points have been made by Senator Rosemary Crowley, quite legitimately, that the resolution is only 10 days old and it is a bit early, I suppose, to refer to the failure of the `lack of action in relation to the following resolution of the 1994 National Conference of the AMA'. I do not know whether `lack of action' is directed to the government; or to whom it is directed. In any event, on the understanding that my vote is not to suggest that I am in favour of the decriminalisation of the use of marijuana, I will be voting for this measure.

  I am very concerned that the educative role of the law still be maintained but in such a way as to prevent harm which results from the recording of a conviction and the imprisonment of offenders in relation to the intermittent use of the drug. On balance, and with those caveats, I will be supporting the motion.