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Legislative Council

29 November 2023
Second reading
David Limbrick  (Libertarian)


David LIMBRICK (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (14:53): Firstly, I would like to thank Ms Payne for bringing forward this bill. It is rather more modest than I would have liked, but nevertheless it is a significant improvement on the status quo in this state. I will start by saying one of the things that this bill does not do which I wish it did, but I understand the reasons for being more modest, is it does not really address the problem with supply and the underlying problems with organised crime in this state. There is a little bit on supply – you can grow your own – but I think, like with tomatoes, not many people will do that themselves. Some will of course.

The fact is over a third of Australians have used cannabis at some time in their life. Over 7 million Australians have used cannabis at some time in their life, and as we have seen from the statements from the Labor Party and from the opposition, these parties believe that you are a criminal. They believe that the police should hunt you down and that you should have a criminal record.

Nick McGowan: That is what the law says.

David LIMBRICK: Yes, that is what the law says, and that is not what the law should say. They also believe that if you have a friend who has consumed cannabis in their life, your friend should have a criminal record. They also believe that if you have a son or a daughter that has used cannabis, they should have a criminal record as well. It is absolutely immoral. They do not respect personal autonomy, bodily autonomy. They do not respect the personal consumption rights of adults. They think that they know best and that they can tell people what to do with the threat of criminal sanctions whilst at the same time we have alcohol and tobacco, the harms of which are orders of magnitude higher than cannabis.

How many people in Australia have died of cannabis in our history? No-one has died from cannabis in our history. It is absolutely outrageous that in 2023 we are still debating this and still debating whether or not people can choose to consume a natural plant. It is absolutely wrong. It is absolutely wrong. And I am proud to belong to a party that for 22 years now has supported a free market in cannabis for adults.

The government and the opposition were talking about harm prevention. No-one disagrees that cannabis causes harm; everyone knows that it causes harm. What we are talking about here is whether prohibition makes that harm worse, and it absolutely does. It gives people a criminal record. Minister Stitt spoke about some of the problems with bronchitis and breathing issues. These are problems directly caused by prohibition stopping innovation in the market. If we look at innovation in markets that have legalised cannabis, they switch to edibles, which you do not inhale and you do not smoke. Smoking is the biggest problem with cannabis. Yes, everyone agrees inhaling the smoke from organic materials is a bad idea, mostly. They have edibles. They have dry-herb vapes. They have many other mechanisms for reducing the harm, but these are all prohibited in this state. It just blows me away.

However, one of the biggest problems, and this bill does not address it – but I urge the government, for goodness sake, to stop handing over all of these markets to organised crime. We have the cannabis market controlled by organised crime in this state. We have the vaping market. We have the tobacco market. I do not place that blame on the state government; that is more of a federal problem. But certainly with vaping we could do a lot. We are seeing at the moment arson attacks all over the city. We are in the middle of yet another gang war in the state, and it is caused by prohibition yet again. We have to take bold action on this, and if the major parties will not do it, then maybe we need to get rid of them and get parties that will. But I hope that they will take some action. They need to move forward on taking these things out of the black market and regulating them in such a way that adults can get by and make these decisions themselves.