The maximum penalty for possessing a book about growing
marijuana will be higher than that for actually growing the
drug, the Law Society has told MPs considering a hard-hitting
A Parliamentary Committee is hearing submissions on a law
change which would increase the penalties for possessing,
importing, exporting or making objectionable publications.
It was targeted at child pornography on the internet but
submitters told the select committee this morning that it
would capture a broad range of images or publications.
Law Society law reform committee member Graeme Edgeler said
that a book which instructs someone on how to grow marijuana
was encouraging a crime and would be considered
"If this increasing sentence goes forward, the maximum
penalty for possessing that book will go up to 10 years'
imprisonment, whereas the maximum penalty for running a
growing operation is eight years' imprisonment."
The maximum penalty for possessing images of bestiality would
also be increased to the same maximum penalty as committing
Mr Edgeler said that if child exploitation was the target of
the bill, Parliament could consider whether there should be
separate child pornography sentences.
He pointed to the scale of sentences for theft, in which
there was a maximum sentence of three months in jail for
stealing $500, a year's imprisonment for stealing up to
$1000, and up to seven years for stealing more than $1000.
Committee members said it was more difficult to create a
graduated scale for objectionable images because it was a
more subjective offence than theft.
MPs also said that the discretion for penalties could be left
to a judge.
The Law Society did not hold a position on whether the
penalties were appropriate, but said Parliament should
question whether raising the maximum penalties for all
objectionable publications would achieve the goals of the law
Other submitters said that tougher sanctions needed to be
accompanied by vigorous education campaigns, and that "naive
teenagers" who posted images on social media should not face
the same penalties as hardened adult criminals.
The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill
would raise the maximum sentence for possessing, importing or
exporting objectionable publications from five years to ten
The maximum penalty for supplying, distributing or creating
offensive images would increase from 10 years to 14 years.
The bill would make it clear that possession of offensive
images included intentionally viewing them, not just
consciously downloading or saving them.
It would create a new offence of indecent communication with
a person under the age of 16, and provide a presumption of
imprisonment for repeat child sex abuse offenders.
- By Isaac Davison of the New Zealand Herald