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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Legislative Options for Cannabis - Australian Government

Chapter 3.


Total Prohibition

Total prohibition is the policy pursued by many of the Parties to the Conventions - including the Australian jurisdictions of Queensland, Northern Territory, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Some writers describe the Single Convention as prohibitionist in nature ([75]Fox & Mathews 1992); others as 'regulatory as opposed to merely prohibitionist' ([76]Woltring 1990, p19). Whatever the case, extremely stringent measures can be employed by the Parties. In both the Single Convention and the Vienna Convention provisions exist that enable the Parties to 'adopt more strict or severe measures than those provided for by the convention if, in [their] opinion, such measures are desirable or necessary to prevent or suppress illicit trafficking' ([77]International Narcotics Control Board 1992, p4). Civil penalty option. As described earlier, this policy option removes criminal penalties for personal use activities such as possession and instead imposes civil penalties - most commonly fines. Australia ratified the Vienna Convention after consultations with the States to ensure that legislation in all jurisdictions conformed with treaty obligations.

While some commentators ([78]Fox & Mathews 1992) argue that civil penalties such as those provided in the South Australian legislation represent a minor breach of international treaty obligations, this does not appear to be the view of the Commonwealth or of other commentators. There appear to be no international law impediments to the civil penalty approach.


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