Courts must impose tougher sentences for cannabis-related crimes because of the damage it does to the mental health of marijuana smokers, South Australia’s Director of Public Prosecutions has demanded.
From The Australian
Toughen sentences for ‘dangerous’ cannabis: DPP
Jeremy Roberts and Verity Edwards
February 13, 2006
Speaking at the first-ever “open day” for the office of the DPP in Adelaide, Stephen Pallaras QC said he was waiting for the right drug case to appeal to a higher court.
“I have heard the research on the link between mental illness and cannabis and it concerns me greatly,” Mr Pallaras said.
“It may be time to reassess the way the court approaches sentencing in light of research on cannabis. We are waiting for the right case to bring before the court of appeal.”
Mr Pallaras’s plan to test judges’ sentences for cannabis crimes comes as both sides of state politics have announced tougher policies on hydroponic cannabis grown for trafficking.
But personal use of cannabis ? defined as possession of one marijuana plant ? remains decriminalised since 1988.
Offenders face a maximum of 25 years in prison and maximum fines of $500,000 if caught with more than 2kg of cannabis or more than 19 plants.
A growing scientific consensus suggests cannabis produces serious and chronic mental illness among people who would not otherwise suffer it.
Mr Pallaras’s plan to toughen his office’s stance on sentencing in cannabis cases follows his decision last month to appeal against what he considered to be a “manifestly inadequate” sentence handed to a woman convicted of cannabis offences.
It was the second appeal against lenient cannabis sentences since September.
The Weekend Australian has studied the cases of 15 people convicted of offences including possession and production of cannabis since October.
Of those convicted, one person was given a two-year sentence and 12 people were handed suspended sentences.
The DPP appealed the three-year sentence of George Petroff, 35, in late November ? which was upgraded to four years and six months ? and in January successfully appealed the sentence of Dianna Ivic, 40.
The Court of Criminal Appeal replaced a suspended sentence in the District Court for Ivic with three years and a non-parole period of 18 months. The prosecutor said the sentence had been “manifestly inadequate”.