Australian Government Urges States To Overturn Decrim Laws

May 18, 2006 - Perth, Australia

Perth, Australia: The federal government is endorsing a plan to implement nationwide uniform cannabis laws outlawing all possession or use of the drug, following a meeting of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy - the nation's top policy-making body on controlled substances.

The new policy, which calls cannabis as dangerous as heroin and cocaine, urges states to revise existing laws decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in favor of criminal penalties. Virtually all eight Australian states treat minor cannabis offenses as civil, not criminal, violations. In four states - South Australia, Western Australia, the Australian Capitol Territory (ACT), and the Northern Territory - cultivation of cannabis for personal use is also a non-criminal offense.

Though government officials endorsed the policy change, they admitted that they lack the legal authority to compel states to overturn their more liberal cannabis laws.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500.

DL: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6911