The Greens are seeking to legalise marijuana for Australians over the age of 18 in a bid to stifle organised crime:
Senator Richard Di Natale argued his party’s proposal would not result in the widespread sale and use of cannabis, and claimed there would be strict regulations on sale and production.
The policy has support from former Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Mick Palmer.
As part of the plan, an agency would be created to be the sole wholesaler of cannabis, as well as the outlet responsible for issuing licenses for prospective growers and retailers.
“As someone who was a drug and alcohol doctor, I’ve seen how damaging the tough on drugs approach is to people,” Senator Di Natale told Channel Ten.
“We’ve got to take this out of the hands of criminals and dealers, [and] we’ve got to make sure it’s within the hands of health professionals.”
“We’ve got to have a much more tightly controlled and regulated environment.”
The Greens have urged Australians to look to the United States, Spain and Uruguay as examples of legalising cannabis leading to a drop in drug-related crime, and argued it could also provide welcome revenue through the taxation system…
Senator Di Natale said it was more harmful to continue banning the use of cannabis, and called on Australia to “get real”.
“Nearly 7 million Australians choose to use cannabis,” he said.
“That choice can land them with a criminal conviction, which can impact their opportunity to get an job.
“They’re sourcing products of unknown quality and purity, and of course all they’re doing is feeding the mega profits of criminal syndicates and criminal gangs.”
Legalising marijuana makes a lot of sense. Sure, while it might not be healthy, it has less harmful effects than alcohol. On any given Friday or Saturday night, the nation’s emergency wards are loaded full of people with alcohol-related injuries, often through alcohol-related violence. By contrast, how often do you see or hear of stoners getting into fights or acting like louts? And yet alcohol is legal and pot isn’t. Inconsistent much?
Moreover, legalising and regulating marijuana sales could provide a nice new revenue source for the government, whilst ensuring purity of supply. It would also reduce profits to organised crime, which currently supplies a lot of the illegal drugs.
Colorado, which legalised marijuana in 2014, has reaped the revenue benefits (see below table), with some of this funding flowing to schools. There has also been no material adverse impact on crime or public health, and lower law enforcement costs.
Washington, too, has reaped the Budget benefits of legalising marijuana, with sales and tax revenue topping $80 million in the year to November 2017, not to mention the savings in law enforcement costs.
Indeed, marijuana is now legal in nine US states, whereas marijuana will become legalised in Canada from July 2018.
So what is Australia waiting for?