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YSAS Youth Advocate supports critical cannabis reform to address unfair criminalisation of young people who use drugs

YSAS Youth Advocate Daniel Robinson Croft joined Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP’s Rachel Payne and David Ettershank, and Harm Reduction Victoria CEO Sione Crawford at State Parliament this morning in support of the Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis Bill ahead of its debate.

YSAS supports thousands of young people and families every year with effective drug and alcohol treatment and advice, and early intervention services for criminal justice system involvement. It’s clear that the best approach to addressing problematic substance use is led by health professionals, not over-policing which targets marginalised communities and treats young people as criminals.

To live a healthy life and develop well young people require a range of support services and opportunities that are not available in the current prohibition model which is punitive, expensive and has not been proven to deliver positive or just outcomes for people who use drugs.

A health-led response which legalises the personal use of cannabis for small quantities and decriminalises its possession is in line with community expectations and the 78 percent of Victorians who believe that the possession of cannabis should not be a crime.

YSAS Youth Advocate Daniel Robinson Croft highlighted the impact that current cannabis criminalisation has on young people and socially disadvantaged communities.

“Young people and people from marginalised communities in Victoria are disproportionately affected by the criminalisation of cannabis every day — stopping them from achieving their goals and dreams due to criminal records.”

“By passing this Bill, we will be stopping Victorians from being disproportionately targeted by police and giving them their futures and lives back.”

Victoria has a history of leading cannabis drug law reform with the landmark Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act passing State Parliament in 2016, and recently adopting an amendment to allow a trial of medicinal cannabis users to drive vehicles on Victorian roads unimpaired.

It’s time for Victoria to be a world leader once again and commit to legalising the personal use of cannabis and join states and nations like Australian Capital Territory, Canada, Georgia, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay and 27 states and territories in the United States of America.

YSAS urges all politicians engaging in today’s parliamentary debate to do so considering the wellbeing of young people who deserve care and compassion, not criminal records. Live streaming of the Victorian Legislative Council can be viewed online here from 2:20pm AEST.

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