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WA Liberal MP calls for action out of synthetic drug confusion

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http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4029235.htm *

Anna Vidot reported this story on Thursday, June 19, 2014 18:40:00

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MARK COLVIN: A West Australian Government backbencher says he still doesn't know if the synthetic cannabis he brought onto the floor of State Parliament is illegal.

WA Liberal Phil Edman is pushing his own Government to do more to tackle artificial cannabis.

He says ministerial colleagues told him the substance was legal, but confusion reigned after the Minister for Mental Health told Parliament that all synthetic cannabis products were illegal.

Anna Vidot reports.

ANNA VIDOT: Liberal MP Phil Edman presented himself to Rockingham Police Station in Perth's southern suburbs this morning, to "turn himself in" and surrender a three gram bag of synthetic cannabis he thought he'd bought legally.

PHILLIP EDMAN: I've asked the police if I'm going to be charged or whether the substance that I've handed in this morning is illegal, and they have said to me that they don't know if it's legal or illegal, as they will now have to send it off for it to be tested.

ANNA VIDOT: The confusion about what's legal and what's not began yesterday, when Phil Edman declared he'd bought synthetic cannabis over the counter in his electorate and would table it in the Parliament.

Mr Edman's been publicly pushing his own Government to do more to tackle synthetic cannabis, which he says is exacerbating issues like youth unemployment and domestic violence in his community.

To prove how easy it is to obtain, Phil Edman told the chamber he sent a couple of staffers out to buy some.

When other MPs questioned whether the substance Phil Edman wanted to table was in fact legal, he said he'd sought advice on that from the state's Health Minister.

PHIL EDMAN: I have asked Minister Kim Hames about this product and he's also assured me that this product is legal at the moment.

ANNA VIDOT: The Mental Health Minister Helen Morton then stood to clarify the Government's position on Mr Edman's synthetic cannabis, which earlier in the day she'd said was still legal.

HELEN MORTON: All synthetic cannabinoids in Western Australia are illegal.

ANNA VIDOT: A spokesperson for the Health Minister Kim Hames has also told the ABC that the Minister advised Mr Edman that, "he could not be sure if the product in his possession was legal or illegal, given he did not know what substances it contained."

Mr Edman says police have told him they won't know whether or not he's broken the law until the test results on his substance come back. And he says that points to the problem in the system - that the police can't take action until a specific package of synthetic cannabis is analysed and is proven to contain a banned substance.

WA's Police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan.

KARL O'CALLAGHAN: It points to nothing if we don't know what the substance is. So for argument's sake, the first thing we've got to get to for base one is to find out what's in those packages.

ANNA VIDOT: The commissioner says WA Police don't need additional resources to deal with synthetic drugs.

KARL O'CALLAGHAN: Drug investigation and doing work on these sorts of things is part of our normal business. I mean, the answer is not to have more police running around doing these things. The answer is actually to have good legislation which keeps the people who sell them in check.

ANNA VIDOT: The WA Government has acknowledged that state legislation around synthetic drugs could be improved, and it's currently seeking to ban 33 substances, including the one bought by Phil Edman.

There's also work ongoing to reverse the onus of proof and require the people selling synthetic drugs to prove that they're not harmful.

Phil Edman says enough time's been wasted in confusion.

PHILLIP EDMAN: The Minister said last night what I did have in my possession was illegal. I guess in one way that's good news, and I ask that the authorities, for the police, for the Government to now prosecute those shops that are selling synthetic cannabis and know they should be prosecuted under the full extent of that law.

That should happen today. They should happen now, if that is true. And if it can't happen right now, or it can't happen at all, the questions need to be asked, why?

MARK COLVIN: WA Liberal Phil Edman ending Anna Vidot's report.

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Two government staffers walk into the highest office in the land with drugs they bought from a everyday shop, the commissioner doesn't have a clue what it is alone what to say, then what is stopping me from getting a transcript of that days parliament talk, shopping at this same shop, selling it on eBay for twice the price. It's not illegal, if so why wouldn't there be an inquest on why you walk into parliament with drugs. Because according to the boss of police and the politicians they are not illegal. If so wouldn't those staffers be arrestable.

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If WA sounds like a strange place re drug laws that's because the current government's drug laws are fucking archaic, let alone their cannabis laws which are about 20 steps backwards from the former gov's. :scratchhead:


** it seems the first clip has been taken down... ahem. :blush:

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