By JOHN FERGUSON, state politics reporter http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au 22aug01 MARIJUANA smoking would be decriminalised, fines cut and users able to grow 10 plants without conviction under secret recommendations to State Parliament. The Herald Sun has obtained a taxpayer-funded report, one of the most detailed undertaken into marijuana in Victoria, revealing how to soften the state's drug laws. The report backed civil penalties as small as $50 for repeat marijuana smokers and said growing 10 plants or less constituted a small amount for personal use. It also suggested the Government could make money by taxing marijuana production if greater controls were introduced over supply of the drug. The 240-page report was handed to Parliament's powerful Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee shortly before Steve Bracks became Premier. Only a few copies are believed to have been printed. The report has been kept secret despite the investigation by the respected National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse. Key recommendations include: SMALL quantities of cannabis for personal use to attract civil rather than criminal penalties. CAUTIONING for initial possession offences, with repeat offenders facing a two-tier fine system of either $50 or $150. ABOLISHING the offence of use of cannabis, but maintaining the offence of possession. MAINTAINING tough supply penalties, but automatically removing use offences from the police record after two years. MEASURES to prevent smokers facing conviction on a cannabis charge as a result of not paying fines. Under existing laws, people caught with less than 50g of marijuana receive up to two cautions. A third breach leads to court and a possible criminal conviction with a fine of up to $500 for personal use. Failure to release the report to the public has angered some committee members, who believe their work was wasted. The committee travelled overseas and collected thousands of pages of evidence after Professor David Penington was called by the Kennett government to head inquiries into the drug problem. Dr Penington was re-hired under Mr Bracks. One MP familiar with the marijuana report said it was a disgrace so much taxpayers' money was wasted. "We are talking about millions of dollars and an enormous amount of effort for some crucial information that never saw the light of day," he said. Prominent Melbourne barrister Ian Freckleton and the former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, were consulted over the planned law reforms. The National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse is one of the country's most respected research bodies examining legal and illegal drugs. The centre, based in Western Australia, argues there is evidence marijuana is not as harmful as some other drugs. Its preferred model, the centre claims, would not lead to wider use of marijuana. "While cannabis is not a harm-free drug, it is much less harmful than many other currently illicit drugs and indeed some which are licit," the report argued.