The State Government in Western Australia announced on Sunday that they are putting into place more repressive marijuana laws that will go into effect on August 1st. Western Australia had effectively decriminalized the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana under the previous Labor Government that set the fines for violators with tickets between $100 and $200 dollars. But with the new Liberal-National party in power, Police Minister Rob Johnson said that those relaxed, soft-drug laws will be repealed and replaced with a much tougher approach. He told reporters yesterday that citizens caught with cannabis will no longer simply get a slap on the wrist for the crime.
Under the new law personal use amounts will shrink to 10 grams, and people caught with those smaller amounts will get referral to court and receive a Cannabis Intervention Requirement to attend a mandatory counseling session. But if you are caught with more than 10 grams of cannabis, you could face up to two years in prison and at $2,000 fine. Anyone caught with more than 100 grams, about three and a half ounces, will be charged with intent to distribute and could face up to two years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The current law allows two plants to be a ticket-able offense, but now any plants can send violators to prison for up to two years. And paraphernalia is also a victim under the new laws going into effect. Sales of paraphernalia will get you a fine of up to $10,000 with a two year prison sentence and up to $24,000 if you get caught selling paraphernalia to a minor.
The Liberal-National Government changed the current policies because they say that after looking into it, the current system wasn’t working. They complained that in the existing system, 95% of those caught just paid a fine, as opposed to choosing a diversion class, an option they had in lieu of a fine. He adds that about a third of those caught who chose the fine never actually paid, adding to the backlog of old tickets, just like unpaid parking tickets that clog up the administrative system.
The Liberal-National Party has a hard stance against drugs as one of their main platforms, and said that the rising number of methamphetamine labs in Western Australia will be targeted next, but for now, it is all about the illegal marijuana. Police Minister Rob Johnson also warned Australians about the toxicity in cannabis calling it “enormous these days and very damaging to peoples brains” He said marijuana can cause schizophrenia and create terrible mental health problems. The opposition Labor Party police Issues spokesperson, Margaret Quirk called the government move toward more repressive marijuana policies misguided and en effort to deflect criticism over harder drugs, like methamphetamine which is growing in popularity. She told the Sydney Herald that there will be no move to reform and decriminalize drug policy while the current party is in power. Here is to hoping their reign is a short one.