Kimberley bishop warns Govt on cannibis tolerance
Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome says the Western Australian Government's cannabis control legislation will increase use of the drug in Aboriginal communities where it is already causing dysfunction.
He has described the legislation as a "tragedy" and a "cop out".
The legislation gives police discretionary powers to issue infringement notices to people caught with up to 30 grams of cannabis or two plants.
In a letter to the Government, Bishop Saunders said the laws would increase violence and self-harm in communities.
He said almost every recent case of self-harm in the West Kimberley had involved a heavy cannabis user.
"I think that the dysfunctionality that we're trying to cope with at the moment in our communities is going to be even worse - there will be greater dysfunctionality and I think that there will be greater youth put at risk," he said.
Health Minister Bob Kucera rejected the bishop's claim that the laws will result in increased cannabis use.
"There is no slackening of the law - in fact, I'm not sure that I heard the bishop's voice when the previous government essentially did decriminalise cannabis by bringing in a cautioning program which had no penalties at all," he said.
Decriminalization of Marijuana (Diocese of Broome Media Release)
Cannabis Control Bill 2003 (No. 188)
Cannabis users face new penalty regime under proposed legislation (WA Health Minister Bob Kucera 19/3/03)
11 Apr 2003