NDRI expertise informs high-level policy and decision-making

Senior NDRI researchers have provided high-level expertise to Parliamentary and Coronial inquiries in mid-May examining responses to deaths in custody and cannabis regulation.

NDRI Director Professor Simon Lenton was invited to give evidence to the Australian Parliamentary Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023.

While not expressing a view on whether cannabis should be legalised, Professor Lenton highlighted the proposed Bill is consistent with the developing research evidence on the impact of cannabis legalisation schemes and expert advice regarding the potential public health benefits of ‘middle-ground options’. However, he also noted major concerns about how the Federal Bill would operate as domestic drug laws in Australia are state and territory matters.

Professor Lenton cautioned that if cannabis was legalised, legislators should be “mindful of not repeating mistakes that have been made with alcohol and tobacco” and allowing fully commercial profit-driven models.

Meanwhile, NDRI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program Leader Dr Jocelyn Jones gave evidence at the Coronial inquest into the death of Yamatji, Noongar, Wongi and Pitjantjatjara woman Heather Calgaret.

Ms. Calgaret died in custody in Victoria in November 2021.

The four-week inquest examined Victoria’s parole system, the availability of mental health and other support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and add if Ms. Calgaret had access to culturally safe care during her incarceration.

Posted on: 23 May 2024

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