David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan) (18:49): (865)

My question is to the Attorney-General. Every year on 20 April cannabis communities across the globe gather at 420 events to celebrate all things cannabis and to call for law reform and destigmatisation.

This year around 300 brave souls gathered at Flagstaff Gardens to demonstrate their commitment to the cause, defying the alarming spectacle of 60 patrolling police with sniffer dogs.

The event was sponsored by multiple crossbenchers from this place – the Greens, the Libertarians, Animal Justice and of course Legalise Cannabis Victoria.

The pre-emptive declaration by Chief Commissioner Shane Patton that police would be adopting a zero-tolerance approach and vigorously enforcing the law was a shrewd one, albeit an overreaction, and had multiple effects.

On the one hand, it significantly reduced the crowd, with many people arriving, appraising the police presence and heading rapidly away from the park.

On the other hand, the commissioner effectively laid the blame for the many police actions that followed at the feet of the government: ‘You, the government, make the law and we, the police, just enforce it.’ Certainly Victoria Police’s approach this year was far more nuanced than in the previous two years.

Instead of scenes of police horses stomping over picnickers and medicinal cannabis patients being arrested and cable-tied, there was a focus on cautions and even some agreed protocols around medicinal cannabis patients.

From my perspective the majority of officers were professional. Indeed most were positively embarrassed at having to enforce such draconian laws on citizens who clearly posed no threat to either peace or civility.

One officer said, ‘Yep. This is what I really trained for – to save lives and protect the public.’ As far as we can determine, Victoria, supposedly the most progressive state in Australia, was the only place where such police interventions and around 40 arrests occurred.

This is so shameful. So, well played, Chief Commissioner Patton. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted, and you get to blame it all on the government.

Personal use of cannabis is often seen as a victimless crime, but the reality is that Victoria is annually arresting around 9000 people, mainly young citizens from marginalised and working-class communities, which damages lives and careers and stigmatises consumers. and respond to the overwhelming public support for personal cannabis consumption to be legalised?


 Your time has run out, Mr Ettershank. Can you change that question to an action, please?


The action I seek is for the Attorney to explain when this government will accept that prohibition against personal use of cannabis has failed and that its policing is discriminatory and a waste of taxpayers money and respond to the overwhelming public support for personal cannabis consumption to be legalised.


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