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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2101

Mr JESS (La Trobe) - Mr Deputy Chairman-

Dr Klugman - Are you speaking as a drinker or a smoker?

Mr JESS - If my friend, the Arab from the other side, would control himself he might learn. I did not intend to enter this debate, but as a drinker and a smoker I am sympathetic to the viewpoint put forward by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass). As a heavy smoker, I would not do anything which would in any way assist anybody to get hooked on drink, cigarettes or marihuana. I think it is an incredible thing and I think it is rather typical of the situation we have in this country and in other Western countries today that there are those people, perhaps people of great and high education, who, if not endeavouring to have marihuana and the soft drugs legalised, are, it could be interpreted by some people, not doing much to stop young folk of this country starting to take it, taste it or to get involved with it. Whatever these honourable gentlemen of great scientific and medical knowledge may say as to what the medical pundits of the world may be saying in respect of marihuana-

Mr Cohen - What did the Returned Services League say?

Mr JESS - My friend, if you got off it 1 think you would do better. All I can say is that at this stage I know of no country in the world, except the undeveloped countries, which have legalised marihuana. We have had it thrown up that marihuana has done no harm to India. I do not think India has legalised marihuana but it has signed a convention against drugs.

I think it is terribly dangerous for people to propound these arguments in a Parliament such as the Parliament of Australia and not expect the young innocent person who is perhaps on the fringe in the university or wherever it may be to refrain from quoting these gentlemen who are saying that marihuana is harmless. These people have the medical knowledge to propound this argument, but what is the point in propounding it in the Parliament of Australia at this stage?

Dr Everingham - To keep these people out of gaol.

Mr JESS - There speaks another of my medical friends. I know that the Labor Party is rather mixed and involved on this subject. We in Australia do not wish to get involved in the great drug problems that are confronting other countries in the world at this time. Surely it must be people in this Parliament, members of the Australian Labor Party and people with medical knowledge who must take responsibility for endeavouring as far as possible to stop young people getting hooked on drugs, whether they be soft or hard. If I were an apprentice, a plumber or a workman or the type that the honourable member for Maribyrnong is supposed to represent and 1 heard the speech that he made not only here but on radio and television I would be most concerned.

Mr Kennedy - What you are saying is disgraceful.

Mr JESS - If the honourable member for Bendigo had as much brain in the top of his head as he has in the roof of his mouth I think he would do better. I admit the sincerity of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, but all I am trying to say is that when we hear academic members of universities and medical members of Parliament continually repeating that marihuana is harmless, that marihuana has no ill effects and that the taking of marihuana should not be treated as a criminal offence I think it is doing nothing but encouraging young people who are innocent and who do not understand exactly what is being said. I think it is an extraordinary thing to find members of the Labor Party, in whatever guise, taking this action when not only the Government but also other thinking people are endeavouring to stop people in Australia from getting into the situation in which perhaps people in other countries find themselves. It has been said in debates here recently that American troops are highly involved with drugs. American troops probably started on drugs by taking marihuana. I do not know; I have no idea in the world. The inference to be drawn from the remarks of one member of the Labor Party was that it was fairly obvious that Australian troops returning from Vietnam would be hooked on drugs. All I am trying to say is that, at a time like this, whatever the honourable member may feel about marihuana, his beliefs are as yet unproven. I find it incredible, not merely as a member of Parliament but as a father of children in this country, that Labor members, including those who are doctors, rise and make speeches such as have been made in this House this day.

Mr Cohen - What about alcohol?

Mr JESS - I agree with respect to alcohol. I have seen what it has done to the honourable member. But as far as I am concerned-

Mr Cohen - I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. I am sick and tired of the filthy remarks of the honourable member for La Trobe. 1 ask that he withdraw that last remark.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! I call on the honourable member for La Trobe to withdraw that remark.

Mr JESS - I withdraw the remark. Obviously that is not the cause.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark unreservedly and apologise.

Mr JESS - I withdraw and apologise. There must be some other reason. I am a heavy smoker. Frankly, I would give anything to break away from the habit. It could be said that I have not the courage-

Dr Klugman - What about will power?

Mr JESS - I have not the will power. That is quite correct. Therefore, I would not-

Dr Klugman - Because you are on a drug.

Mr JESS - 1 think that what the honourable member says is quite correct. But I would not do anything which would lead or encourage anybody under any circumstances to become hooked on anything such as cigarettes or marihuana, however harmless it may be. I take the point that the honourable member has made that for the poor young kid who has taken his first sniff of or has first smoked marihuana, perhaps the penalty is too great at this time. But unless-

Mr Kennedy - Be honest! You agree. What are you arguing about?

Mr JESS - If the honourable member will let me continue to develop my argument, he will see that 1 am agreeing with him.

Mr Kennedy - Try being honest for the next 3 minutes.


Mr JESS - All I can say is this: If we do not have a penalty and if we do not bring to the attention of the youth of this country the seriousness of taking marihuana - perhaps the first sniff or the first puff - surely we will encourage them to go into a chemist shop to buy it and to do all of the things that we do not want them to do. I am sorry; I respect the honourable member for Maribyrnong but I do not respect those who by any means encourage, or may appear to give encouragement to, people to take marihuana or any other soft drug at this time. I do not think that this nation wants any part of it. If the sophisticated medicos of the Australian Labor Party feel that the people should, I think that the Australian people will repudiate them. As far as I am concerned, no-

Dr Klugman - Are you going to oppose cigarette advertising?

Mr JESS - I wish that you, my distinguished friend, in your short career here could only make understandable what you are trying to get across. I recognise the sincerity of the honourable member for Maribyrnong. I will have no part of the point that the honourable member propounds, and I am quite sure that the Australian people, particularly parents, will have no part of it.

Mr Giles - I take a point of order.

Dr Cass - I claim to have been misrepresented.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I will hear the honourable member for Angas on a point of order.

Mr Giles - My point of order is this: Is the honourable member for La Trobe entitled to protection from the Chair when he is twice called dishonest by the honourable member for Bendigo? Should not the honourable member for Bendigo bc made to withdraw?

Mr Kennedy - He can refute what T said.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I call upon the honourable member for Bendigo to withdraw those remarks and to apologise.

Mr Kennedy - I withdraw the remarks. I call upon the Chair to give the honourable member for Maribyrnong the opportunity to defend himself against the outrageous attacks that the honourable member for La Trobe has been making upon him.


Dr CASS(Maribyrnong) - Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Dr CASS - Yes. I think that a number of the comments that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) has made suggested that I advocate the use of marihuana. I do not advocate the use of any drugs at all. I do not smoke. I drink very little. I mainly drink orange juice. I have tried marihuana twice because I intended to give evidence before the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. I do not use it or wish to use it any more. I am not advocating the use of barbiturates or Aspros either, because I think that they are dangerous. I resent the implication in the remarks that the honourable member for La Trobe made to the effect that I am somehow advocating these things. I attempted simply to indicate scientific evidence. I realise that we will have views about what it might mean-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member is now debating the question.

Dr CASS - I tried to give the scientific evidence about the drug. Now, I do not believe that that is a matter of opinion, lt is published scientific material. I am sorry: if the honourable member cannot make up his mind on the subject on scientific evidence. T do not know what else he can do.

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