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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4322

Mr GARLAND (Curtin) (Minister for Supply) - As I said earlier, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) is very sorry that he is not able to be .here to take part in this debate tonight. Honourable members are aware of his interest in this matter. The Government is unable lo accept this amendment at this time, although the Minister certainly will examine Hansard closely to see the various suggestions which have been made and the arguments that have been put. In my remarks now, I will refer to amendments (1), (3) and (4) on the list of amendments circulated by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). Honourable gentlemen who have spoken feel that cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabinoids not being narcotics should be described or listed differently from narcotics such as heroin. While the amendment may place cannabis cannabis resin and cannabinoids in a separate schedule, in fact by definition these remain narcotic substances. As the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) mentioned, this does not affect the penalty provisions in any way. I appreciate the motives which prompt this part of the amendment, but I would assure honourable members that the terms 'narcotic substance' and 'narcotic goods' are purely descriptive. They merely describe the various drugs.

To be consistent it would be necessary to separate not only cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabinoids but also other drugs listed in Schedule VI which also are not narcotics in the true sense, such as LSD and cocaine. While the terms 'narcotic goods' and 'narcotic substance' might not be ideal, the use of terms such as drugs of abuse' could be equally debatable. There is nothing sinister in the use of these 2 descriptive terms. Indeed, drugs such as cannabis and cocaine have for a long time been commonly referred to as narcotics. I would welcome any proposal either here or in another place to provide a more appropriate descriptive term than narcotic'. It is believed that no good purpose is served by providing a separate schedule for cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabinoids as is envisaged by the 3 amendments. Indeed, such amendments would appear only to render the Act a little more cumbersome without any commensurate gain.

Mr Hayden - Is it correct that the Minister will withdraw the words 'narcotic substances' in the title at the head of Schedule VI?

Mr GARLAND - As I understand it, this does not require amendment. It is my understanding at the moment that this proposal would be acceptable and that it will be arranged in the printing.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 6 - by leave - taken together.

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