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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4294

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - I have very much pleasure in associating myself with the Bill as presented by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). My satisfaction is based not only on the manner in which the Bill meets a deficiency that did exist but also on the fact that it was presented by a Minister who, I feel, has profound understanding of these matters. He was in Queensland recently and he had what would be a trying experience in any circumstances, that is, to spend an hour with a group of young university students, and he was applauded throughout Queensland for the manner in which he dealt with this question. He has shown this under standing not only in regard to his duties relating to the Department but also in regard to his other duties. Having said that) I would like to refer to what I think is the substance of the more important part of this Pill. In his second reading speech tha Minister said:

This Bill is yet another step being undertaker! by the Government in an endeavour to prevent Australian citizens being exposed to this dreadful traffic.

That is traffic in various drugs, of course. The Minister said further:

A major legal difficulty encountered by officers of the Narcotics Bureau in bringing drug traffickers to justice is the necessity to produce direct evidence that drugs seized have been imported into Australia.

This problem occurs despite the fact thai in many instances the drugs concerned exhibit foreign markings or words and obviously have been manufactured in an overseas country.

Anyone with any intelligence at all will realise the necessity for this Bill.

One of my main purposes - in speaking in this debate is to point more specifically to the question of marihuana - call it grass, hay, pot, stick, reefer or whatever you like. What is marihuana? It is one of the hallucinogenic drugs. Such a drug creates hallucinations or delusions. The point is that this drug creates delusions without clouding consciousness. Here is the fine line of distinction between marihuana and alcohol: Alcohol and other intoxicating substances may also create hallucinations but the mind is clouded. An hallucinogen distorts reality. It plays tricks on the mind. It stimulates the senses in such a way that the imagination runs wild, and it does so with a dangerous clarity. The mind is not clouded.

Honourable members may wonder, knowing me, where I would get such profound knowledge. My authorities are Robert Sharoff, M.D., who is the Associate Professor of Psychiatry of the New York Medical College and former Director of the Narcotic Addiction Service, Metropolitan Hospital, New York City, and also The Marihuana Papers'. I am led to believe that this latter book has been examined closely by the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. I am not going to lose faith in the Minister for Customs and Excise because of any decision made by the Senate Select Committee. I do not want to say that one

Minister in the House of Representatives is worth 20 senators. Maybe this is a correct assessment, but it is not for me to say. But it is the Minister's business to know what is going on in regard to drug trafficking every day of the week and every week of the year. He knows precisely what is happening. Such a man of the world as he is has a profound understanding of these matters. So he is my second authority.

Let me refer to a document I have before me which gives the effects of marihuana, lt says:

In a recent issue of the 'American Journal of Psychiatry', a small group of pot smokers were reported on. All were of superior intelligence. They were or had been university students.

I like the use of the words 'had been' because unfortunately one of the effects of drug taking is that there are so many dropouts at the universities. The document continues:

None was a delinquent. None had ever been arrested. All but two came from middle class backgrounds. These are some of the difficulties which were experienced: One felt panic and fear. One had a feeling that he was outside himself and had lost his identity. One suffered complete confusion and hallucination. Two experienced deep depression. Four had a paranoid reaction - feeling someone or something was out to hurt them. Two had major changes of behaviour and style of life after using the drug. Four had a split personality. . . .

I think that this in itself is a very profound indictment of the irresponsible people who wo.:!d constantly create in the minds of young people the impression that drug taking is a pretty normal thing to do. Pressure is put upon a young person, when he or she leaves high school and goes to university and feels that he or she has to conform to standards that are being dragged down by people who create this impression. 1 like the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) but I do not like a lot of the things he stands for. He spoke about moralising as though 'moralising' was a dirty word. According to him, you do not create moral standards any more. 1 say that you most certainly, do create moral standards until yo-j build cp in the mind' of our young people that they do have a code by which they should live, and it is a code that does not include the smoking of marihuana.

Why should they smoke marihuana? You may say they drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. Let us go a little further into this in case those minor reactions may not have been impressive enough. What are the dangers of marihuana? Dr Sharoff says:

To marihuana critics, the pot user retorts that it increases artistic talent.

What is artistic talent? I should not start talking about artistic talent or the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) will refer to my alleged attendance at the United Nations organisation. Dr Sharoff says:

Most scientific opinion does not support his claims. It even makes some serious counterclaims. The user may '..., good' while the drug lasts, but afterwards he may experience a 'down' and become, gloomy. 1 suppose that is something that we experience in this chamber at about one o'clock in the morning. He continues:

Some users show signs of panic and even express fear of dying.

This is what Dr Sharoff had to say:

In company, the user may be very talkative, even if he is naturally shy. He sounds self confident even on matters about which he knows very little. He loses his inhibitions.

I suppose we all do that at times -

However, if » negative idea shows up. he may become unsure, irritated and anxious. He then retreats to glum silence.

This creates a pretty realistic picture.

In case honourable members have not been impressed by those generalities let me now refer to the report of an incident which comes from no less a person than the Commissioner of Narcotics himself. This is not fiction, lt is documented fact. 1 suppose honourable members opposite will say: There they go again. The Minister is rushing around the place getting emotional and creating colourful pictures.' That is all very well, but it gives the impression that anyone who wants to create a barrier between these ugly things that are happening in some sort of square, to use the old word for it. Now honourable members will say I am getting emotional and wanting vo get up in the clouds. But listen to this: Hie Commissioner reported that an entire family was murdered by a youthful marihuana addict in Florida. When officers arrived at the home they found the youth staggering about in a human slaughterhouse. With an axe he had killed his father, mother, two brothers unci a sister. .He seemed to dislike his family. He seemed to be in a daze. He had no recollections of having committed a multiple crime. The interesting point is that the officers knew him ordinarily as a sane, rather quiet young man. Now he was pitifully crazed. They sought the reason. The boy said that he had been in the habit of smoking something which youthful friends called muggles, a childish name for marihuana. I would say that while the slightest possibility of anything even approaching that result exists, everyone in this House - after all, we are the leaders of the nation - should stand four-square against marihuana. I want to refer to some comments I made when a reporter from the 'Australian' newspaper rang mc in Queensland recently. I am not using this as a coward's castle. I want to refer to the comments made by Dr Ribush in an article that he wrote for the 'Australian Medical Journal*. The honourable member for Prospect mentioned this a little while ago. Dr Ribush made the statement that he knew of 20 or 30 doctors who were smoking pot, or marihuana, f do not know what has happened about this in the Queensland Parliament. It was to have blown up in the last few days. I do not know whether any action has been taken. 1 say with respect to the Minister that the first thing that should happen is that Dr Ribush should be interviewed perhaps by some officers of the Department of Customs and Excise. The next thing that should happen is that be should notify the police. He is condoning crime. On the question of whether or not it is a crime to smoke marihuana, I do not care what anyone says because according to the law of the land it is a crime. Here is a man of status - Dr Ribush. a young man of 30 - who claims that he knows of 20 or 30 doctors who are smoking marihuana. The last thing that should happen is that the Australian Medical Association should immediately open an inquiry into this whole question. With all due respect to the medical men and associated professional men in the ranks of the Opposition, why should they have some particular form of protection? They should not have this protection. Dr Ribush, as I have stated outside this House, should give his full co-operation to have this whole matter investigated, firstly by the Department of Customs and Excise, secondly by the Queensland police or the police in whichever State these people ara smoking this stuff, and thirdly by his own Medical Association. I. hope that the Association is interesting itself to the extent of holding a full scale inquiry.

Dr Cass - Do you think we should usa the rack on him?

Mr KATTER - That is the sort of statement that we get from honourable members opposite. They try to ridicule decent standards that most Australians stand by. This is why these poor people on the other side will never get into power, because people who have not had political experience like some of their older and more experienced colleagues make that sort of comment, and I have taken it up because I want it to go into Hansard. I want the people of Australia to understand that this is their standard.

The last matter 1 want to deal with is the matter of punishment. Behind all these operations affecting drugs is Mr Big, the fellow who sits in the background and issue* bis instructions only through a telephone. He would not even soil himself by coming in contact with the pushers. This would be beyond him. I do not know whether this is correct or not but on the very best authority I have been told that some of the people behind the wholesale distribution of drugs are some of the allegedly most respectable business tycoons in this land and it wouldbe very surprising if Mr Big were to be suddenly revealed to the people of Australia. I know what I am saying. I have not taken any pot. Let us get this clear because 1 do not want any misunderstandings. The person behind the scene is pulling in the profits such as is indicated in this report which 1 have. Let us have a quick look at them. One pound of marihuana can be purchased in most south east Asian countries such as India and Pakistan, and in South Africa, for $10. Landed in Australia, taking into consideration all costs such as couriers, etc., 1 lb will sell for $150. Placed on the wholesale market in Sydney it than sells for $400 to $500, depending on quality. At this point 1 lb is divided into 1 oz lots and sold for $40 per oz. The report goes on - honourable members have heard my colleague the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), who will bc here for a long time to come, refer to this - to deal with

LSD and heroin and the end result of this is that 2 lb of material nets almost §100,000. The fellow who sits back, who would not even soil himself and who would never reveal his identity, is the man who should be subjected to capital punishment, because he is responsible for the slow destruction of the lives pf so many young people. I say that, the criminals are the people who will instil in the minds of young people the idea that this is an ordinary every day sort of operation, that they should get in with the kids and smoke pot.

Let me refer very briefly to the findings of the American Medical Association in this matter. I will admit that these findings are not completely conclusive but while there is the slightest possibility of what I am saying being correct anyone who condones this is almost as much a criminal as is the pusher. It is alleged that the constant smoking of marihuana will create in young men impotency, and if anything this should frighten them off. In young women it is alleged that there can be difficulties with childbirth and that there can be malformations and other side effects. Last but not least - this is the one that I want to refer to particularly - is the person who graduates. They say it is not habit forming to the same extent as other drugs but the sort of person who would want to smoke marihuana has this inherent weakness. He or she frequently comes from some privileged family and has never known bad times. The trouble these days - I have heard people say this so often - is with the young privileged wealthy kids in the cities who have never known adversity and who have all the money they want. If only someone would give them a kick in the pants and send them out to the back blocks and let them feel the mud between their toes and get down to the earthy sort of things, they would not be looking for these kicks. But the point is that they are looking for kicks and frequently they graduate from marihuana to the heavier drugs.

I repeat that Mr Big, the man who sits in the background and who reaps the profits, should be subject to capital punishment or if the maximum penalty is life imprisonment he should be put away for life. It is quite obvious from my point of view that the penalties now being applied for drug offences are infinitesimal. Honourable members on both sides of this House, this national Parliament, have to accept this responsibility. 1 am sure that the great majority if not all the people on the other side are misled. They come in, these extreme radicals, and they think that somehow or another they have to push these odd things, but I will not go into detail at the moment.

Dr KLUGMAN (PROSPECT, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We are never pushing you.

Mr KATTER - I am not suggesting that the honourable member is a pusher. They feel that they have to push these extreme radical things. I am sure that in their heart of hearts they would agree with me that the whole of the energies of this House - we owe it to this nation to do' all in our power in this direction - should be directed towards applying the severest penalty not against those who are taking the drugs but against those who are wrecking the lives of so many young and older people in this nation.

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