On March 23 1977, The Area News published a letter to the editor from Griffith businessman Don MacKay providing three recommendations to tackle the area’s growing drug crime problems.
One suggestion was to increase the minimum jail sentence for growing, cultivation and supply of marijuana to ten years.
As drug-fueled crimes again feature frequently in the news, do his recommendations remain remain relevant today?
Don Mackay’s 1977 letter, reproduced in full, was as follows:
The Riverina area generally and Griffith in particular, have recently acquired an unsavoury reputation as a large scale supplier of marijuana.
An article in last Sunday's Sun Herald added to that reputation.
Within our area the effect has been to create an unpleasant atmosphere of distrust, fear and suspicion that did not exist before the discovery of large crops of marijuana.
May I suggest three steps which could be taken to improve this situation.
All three would require action by the NSW State Government and I would urge any readers who agree with these steps to write to the Premier, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney.
The three steps are as follows:
Firstly, would the Government legislate to make the growing and cultivation of marijuana a crime as it is in every state except NSW.
Secondly, would the Government arrange to have officers of the Drug Squad stationed permanently in the Riverina. The Premier has already announced a large increase in the strength of this unit and it would seem reasonable to ask that at least some of this extra man power be stationed in the known source area.
Thirdly, would the Government enact higher minimum penalties for those convicted of offences relating to the growing, cultivation and supply of marijuana. A minimum penalty of say ten years goal would have a real deterrent effort. A prospective grower would then know that, if convicted, he would not be able to hope for a fine, bond or short goal term.
Perhaps readers will have other ideas that could also be suggested to the Premier on this subject.
The above steps are suggested in the belief that it is better to do something rather than nothing.
If enough citizens express their concern in a constructive way then some action may follow.
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