Theses & Monographs

Swensen G. 
Reform of minor cannabis laws in Western Australia, the United Kingdom & New Zealand (2006)

This thesis was submitted in 2006 for the requirements of a LLM at Murdoch University.

Click here to go to the Murdoch University Digital These Program to view or download the thesis.

It examines in some detail the recent history of cannabis law reform in Western Australia (WA), the United Kingdom (UK0 and New Zealand (NZ) up to 2005 and includes a review of decriminalisation of cannabis in a number of other Western countries. 

The publication includes an examination of some of the reasons for reform failing to occur in NZ, even though it shares similarities with WA and the UK in the evolution of drug policy and the legal framework for criminalising cannabis and other drugs.

The report discusses how over the past three decades there has been intense and sustained debate in a number of major Western countries about the wisdom of the criminal justice system continuing to severely punish offenders by fines and even imprisonment due to the adoption of policies that prohibit the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis. This debate has proceeded against a background of apparent failure of the prohibition of cannabis, as there have been a large and growing number of young adults who have been exposed to cannabis. 

The discussion also refers to growing evidence that some of those who have been charged and received criminal convictions with attendant deleterious effects on their employment and wellbeing has forced policy makers to re-evaluate the justification for continuing to criminalise cannabis. The thesis consists of the following chapters:

  • Introduction (Ch 1)
  • Drug law enforcement and drug markets (Ch 2)
  • Models of cannabis law reform (Ch 3)
  • Case studies of cannabis law reform (Ch 4)
  • Decriminalisation of cannabis – What is known? (Ch 5)
  • Consequences of cannabis law reform (Ch 6)
  • Lessons from cannabis law reform (Ch 7)


Swensen G. 
The 2004 cannabis law reforms in Western Australia & the United Kingdom: A case of too much caution?  Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Müeller, 2008.
[ISBN: 978-3-639-03177-5]

This 360 page monograph is an expanded and updated version of some of the content of the above thesis, which was originally published in mid 2008 by the German publishers academic VDM Verlag Dr Müller, but which is now available from online book sellers

Swensen G. 
Heroin addiction & treatment: A case study of the Western Australian methadone program, 1973 – 1989 (1990)

This thesis was submitted in December 1990 as a thesis for the requirements of a MA in Public Policy at Murdoch University.

It is a case study history of methadone treatment in WA, covering the period when methadone treatment became available in WA in late 1973, to the end 1989. 

Over this period methadone was initially prescribed by a limited number of private practitioners who operated with little or no oversight or accountability. However, because of over prescribing, extensive diversion which created a black market and resultant substantial levels of offending, abuse and overdoses, a system of publicly operated treatment was instituted.

Click here to view or download a PDF version [455k] of this study.