BATHURST Greens councillor John Fry has stopped short of backing a push by the party’s national executive to legalise the sale and possession of marijuana in Australia.
But Cr Fry said he would support the decriminalisation of the drug for users caught with a small amount of cannabis.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale is leading a Greens campaign to legalise marijuana, saying Australia’s “war on drugs has failed”.
He is also calling for the establishment of an Australian Cannabis Agency that would be given a monopoly over the wholesale supply of the drug to shops, while collecting millions of dollars in a tobacco-style tax from consumers.
Cr Fry said the issue was sure to be discussed at meeting of the Bathurst branch of the Greens tonight (Tuesday) but his view was that Australia was not yet ready to legalise the drug.
“My personal view is that I don’t agree with legalisation but I do agree with decriminalisation because I think that still sends the message to young people that marijuana can potentially harm people the way cigarettes and alcohol can cause harm,” he said.
“Other countries have decriminalised all drugs and it has not been the end of the world but I don’t think Australia is ready for that.”
Cr Fry said any changes to marijuana laws would have to be developed in consultation with health professionals.
He said if the drug was legalised he would want to see all tax revenue from the sale of marijuana products put back into health and education programs for young people.
“You can already buy the drug over the counter in countries like Holland and several states in the US so there are some good examples for us to follow and we should follow them very carefully,” Cr Fry said.
Under Mr Di Natale’s plan, staff at shops selling cannabis would be forced to undergo responsible service of drugs training and varieties of marijuana would come in plain packaging detailing strains and health warnings.
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