Why it’s time to legalise pot

By Leith van Onselen

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?

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Comments

  1. Is a pathway to substitute tobacco with ganja and keep a system similar to tobacco excise just a opaque way to help transition of tobacco giants to ganja giants?

    If manufacturing of ganja becomes legal for personal use and for sale in small quantities (e.g. not for further redistribution) then maybe this is the correct way.
    Otherwise… substitute one expensive substance (tobacco) for another (ganja) and once the honeymoon is over (decriminalisation euphoria) you have ganja closely related to the criminogenic factors again (black market).

  2. Crocodile Chuck

    Think about the senior officers of NSW Police

    Those holiday homes and swimming pools don’t build themselves!

    • This is going to be better than speed cameras. The weed testing methodology is dodgey as – basically don’t drive if you smoked a joint for up to 1 month. Yes, because you are totally baked for a month after a joint.

      • bolstroodMEMBER

        Test for impairment (not a molecule in your system), as they do for alchohol.
        They do this in the UK.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        ?

        Booze buses don’t test for impairment they test for BAC.

        How could you objectively test for “impairment” without a baseline?

    • This is entirely correct.

      The crims pay the cops and others to furiously campaign against legalisation of pot, as it would destroy their immensely profitable business model.

      Marijuana is a weed that will grow almost anywhere. It’s only scarce and expensive because its illegal. Keeping it illegal keeps it profitable for the crims and bent cops.

  3. I don’t disagree with the policy but with all the PC moral outrage and crusades over such issues there is little wonder that The Greens have no time left for Green politics. At least we know what Richard Di Natale is smoking that enables his party to ignore mass immigration as a Green issue.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      You will find among the outraged PC mob that the louder the outcry the more they , or their associates are making a motza out of it being illegal.

  4. Will the additional excise from marijuana offset the decreased excise revenue from alcohol and tobacco?

  5. Know IdeaMEMBER

    And here I was thinking it was referred to the Greens Party due to environmental policies.

  6. Unfortunately the detrimental health effects from marijuana on mental health don’t seem to present themselves quickly and transparently like alcohol. Won’t presume to be an expert or insist I’m right but the only medical studies I’ve seen point to marijuana being a phsycosis trigger in teenagers combined with a higher level of lung destruction than tobacco. So while it’s possible all such studies that indicate this are deliberately skewed for anti drug political reasons should we not at least try to understand what it is we would be perpetuating by legalising it. Tobbaco companies knew the dangers of what they sold but hid it in the 1960s. We might be opening another can of worms. Let’s have some legitimate unbiased research from objective institutions. But I do support the continued use of it in a prescribed medical capacity as currently exists in some areas. Would also like to see more research in the medicinal cannabis oils with reduced levels of THC. currently thier efficacy is mostly annecdotal. Let’s get unbiased trials fast tracked with out political and pharmaceutical companies interference.

    • Yes, though it may be no worse than the legal drugs that is not exactly saying much.

      Beyond funding regulation and the damage caused by the drug… smoking it…..why on earth would we want to build recurrent revenue around drug abuse?

      If the taxation is intended as a consumption control device…..to stop poor people having a spliff….the revenue should be used for very specific purposes

      • Smoking it prevents COPD all the things you thought you know are all reefer madness propaganda with no actual scientific basis. Cannabis is not a drug of abuse it is a medicinal herb with way less side affects than conventional medications.

    • you need to look into it

      There are two psychoactive components: THC and CBD

      one is bad and one is good

      The outdoor stuff usually has the good variety, while the hydroponic hardcore stuff has the bad

      • You can buy THC or CBD oil both have different properties. Only THC is known to work on cancer. Sorry saying one is good and one is bad is incorrect. THC is the only psychoactive oil and is the only one to work on cancer, used as a suppository it has no psychoactive effect and bypasses the liver going straight to the blood stream having a stronger cancer fighting action.

        New research shows whole plant extracts to work best. They now have discovered there are more than 5 (possibly many more) oils.

      • I am very close to the front line and the dispensary I know has gone from a couple of people a day to over 60 mostly all old boomers coming up from the city to get Medicine. The pain killing properties of THC are amazing. Please if you know anyone with cancer get them on to this miracle herb, it’s hard to find abut available all over Australia. You need high doses of oil not just smoking it.

      • Thx causes psychosis
        cbd is antipsychotic

        Saying that taking it rectally avoids psychoactive effects by bypassing the liver is nonsense
        Smoking it also bypasses the liver and definitely causes psychoactive effects

      • There’s money in it so it’s acceptance is only a matter of time.
        Countries that have already decriminalised or legalized…

        Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Greece, parts of India, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay

      • At last an accurate comment about the supposed dangerous psychotic dangers of ‘brew’.

        Because of current laws ‘hydro’ has become the norm. And it is full of chemical rubbish and smoked to excess just fries your brain. Outdoor ‘brew’ is a beautiful thing and from my anecdotal personal experience and used in relative moderation does not have the same effects as hydro.

        Sure … any smoke in your lungs is detrimental but the demonisation of ‘brew’ in general is just pure ignorance.

        I mean seriously how can it be worse than booze and smokes?

      • “I mean seriously how can it be worse than booze and smokes?”

        It’s not of course. Far less damaging than those two legal drugs.
        Part of the problem is due to the illegal status of the herb, commercial growers have focused on the maximization of THC at the expense of the very beneficial, and antipsychotic CBD.
        Once the herb becomes legal we will have access to all manner of strains with many varying properties, from purely medicinal to balanced recreational, which incorporate equal THC/CBD contents that will not have the negative effect of hastening psychosis in those already predisposed to that illness. All these strains already out there and readily available to anyone game enough to get a very discreet letter from Holland in the post.

    • I ve seen plenty of surfers who smoked dope more or less their whole lives
      Some built global companies, some just worked in board shops
      All now have their brains stupefied, and their bodies ruined..their businesses lost.
      Makes it easy for us guys who didn’t smoke, just drank.
      Pot is miles worse than alcohol, as bad as that is.
      all that legalising pot will do is to make it easier for others to move ahead of you.
      Just like free access to money??

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Not that I follow it closely, but I thought the current accepted science was that marijuana might expose and worsen any underlying mental health issues but wouldn’t cause them from scratch?

    • +1
      Those who talk about how harmful legal drugs are compared to marijuana have no life experience in this area and should educate themselves.

    • There are two possible mechanisms an amateur like me can think of that could help.

      1) the body under the influence opens all the capillaries which results in a more even flow of blood around the body and thus comparatively less to the tumours.

      2) and this may seem opposite, but the same mechanism could allow more T cells to get to the tissue around the tumour.

      So, effectively, what I see is a siege.

    • JunkyardMEMBER

      Already we have some here claiming it cures cancer in people, which is an incredibly reckless and harmful thing to be claiming without a shred of clinical evidence.

      Comments like that should be deleted before some poor sod gives up their chemo.

      • Chemo is a harsh toxic treatment, many die from chemo alone. It has a low success rate. It pulls big money.
        A herb tha has never killed anyone…ever…zero overdoses in thousands of years,is far more dangerous than some prescription drugs that have been rushed through testing in only a couple of months?

    • smoking is a waste of the resource…. Frinstance, a leaf tea [brewed @70c] when cooled to room temp. = the best relief from Sandy blight / welding flash / conjunctivitis

      • …indeed, and vaporization liberates twice as much of the beneficial medicines with none of the harmful products of combustion.

  7. EvetsllubMEMBER

    I’ll be very surprised if we see this in our country in the next 20 years. It took a $100m ‘survey’ for our conservative politicians to finally roll over on gay marriage. imagine the reefer madness propaganda on this one.

    Plus the 7m weed smokers out there aren’t being stopped from pursuing their hobby, where’s the incentive for their voice to be loud enough to lobby for this change?

  8. Might as well legalise it, because when the big wave hits – it will take off the edge. Duuuude! Where’s my investment property!

  9. Re-legalising luxury bathrooms will also raise revenue – even if a 990% tax is put on luxury bathroom fittings.

    The LNP is pondering legalising supercars that have the steering wheel on the wrong side. One guy recently paid $2.45 million for a couple of NSW number plates!

    Imagine how much he would pay for a whole car if a $2 million tax is put on each new petrol car imported after 2030!

    • I have seen leaked documents that suggest that this May’s Budget will impose a tax on high-flow shower heads. I chalk it up as a win for Jacob.

      Treasury obviously reads these forums and comments.

      • I wish them luck with that. A low flow head is low flow only because of a tiny washer in the fitting which can be removed in seconds.

      • Not to worry, Reusa’s got you covered (so to speak): replace the head in question with a “spurting” model. Muuuuch more economical…

  10. astrolinMEMBER

    Greens flailing around with a recent grab bag of radical policies after being exposed as neo liberal supporters of A Big Australia and after the sidelining of their true radical Senator, Lee Rhiannon, by the prim and proper Greens of the John Howard generation. Good luck guys

  11. maclennanrMEMBER

    Cannabis is not as harmless as pro legalisation advocates would have you believe, however, most people are going to consume it regardless of its legal status. I would rather see the government get revenues from it vs criminals (typically parasitic individuals). Why anyone would want criminals to profit is beyond me. From what I have observed, alcohol is the gateway drug, not cannabis.

  12. reusachtigeMEMBER

    The more sociable drugs like Cocaine and GHB, should be legalised too, sooner rather than later! We should be free of fear of prosecution when we all want to pop a row of Ecstasy during the relations party!

  13. BULLS… BULLS… BULLS…

    1. Marijuana is not one chemical. It is a complex mix of chemicals. The best known is THC, but there are many hundreds of others. They haven’t all been studied. But the balance of different chemicals varies dramatically from batch to batch. So do the effects. If you want to have an analogy with alcohol, then make alcoholic drinks all different random strengths – and remove the labels (and then add a few extra random chemicals just for fun).

    2. Marijuana today is a very different drug to what was round in the 60’s and ’70’s. It is far more potent. It didn’t use to cause major problems. Now it does.

    3. There is a very high correlation between mental health problems and marijuana use. The two go inextricably hand in hand. It is difficult to always distinguish between cause and effect, but there is reasonably good evidence that marijuana can precipitate psychosis in adolescents and young adults.

    4. Emergency departments and mental health facilities are overloaded with drug affected people – including marijuana. The courts are overloaded with drug affected people (including marijuana) who commit some crime, claim they have a mental health issue, and get let off. People claim it doesn’t affect them and it is safe. Until they are before the courts. Then they are only too happy to say how much it affected them.

    5. Side effects of marijuana include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (false perceptions), paranoia, disordered thinking, aggression, and violence. Very similar to ice.

    6. Its not just the marijuana – its also the underlying person.
    You can have happy drunks, talkative drunks, boring drunks, flirty drunks, sleazy drunks, drunks that fall asleep, loud drunks, aggressive drunks, and violent drunks.
    Well, its the same with marijuana. For every calm and relaxed and reflective marijuana user, there is a violent thought disordered user being a pain in the a… and causing trouble.

    7. Emerging data suggests higher car crash rates in US states which have legalised marijuana. Hence the argument that it is safe is false. And hence the argument that legalising won’t lead to increased use is also false. You, your partner, and your children are on the road with these irresponsible d…heads. Crash rates increased more than fatality rates – in part because those people who started using marijuana after legalising were young, who do disproportionately well in car crashes.
    http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Why-the-Latest-Data-on-Marijuana-and-Car-Crashes-Has-Some-Experts-Skeptical.html
    https://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/colorado-marijuana-traffic-fatalities/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/26/what-marijuana-legalization-did-to-car-accident-rates/?utm_term=.b333b47005ea

    8. Plenty of users are < 18. If you don't legalise it for children, there will still be a black market.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Yeah the pot is a sick drug for down and outs. We need more encouragement of the sociable drugs like cocaine and e over that weak brainsh1t!

    • “Side effects of marijuana include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (false perceptions), paranoia, disordered thinking, aggression, and violence.”

      I thought you were talking about the housing market.

  14. BULLS… BULLS… BULLS…

    1. Marijuana is not one chemical. It is a complex mix of chemicals. The best known is THC, but there are many hundreds of others. They haven’t all been studied. But the balance of different chemicals varies dramatically from batch to batch. So do the effects. If you want to have an analogy with alcohol, then make alcoholic drinks all different random strengths – and remove the labels (and then add a few extra random chemicals just for fun).

    2. Marijuana today is a very different drug to what was round in the 60’s and ’70’s. It is far more potent. It didn’t use to cause major problems. Now it does.

    3. There is a very high correlation between mental health problems and marijuana use. The two go inextricably hand in hand. It is difficult to always distinguish between cause and effect, but there is reasonably good evidence that marijuana can precipitate psychosis in adolescents and young adults.

    4. Emergency departments and mental health facilities are overloaded with drug affected people – including marijuana. The courts are overloaded with drug affected people (including marijuana) who commit some crime, claim they have a mental health issue, and get let off. People claim it doesn’t affect them and it is safe. Until they are before the courts. Then they are only too happy to say how much it affected them.

    5. Side effects of marijuana include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (false perceptions), paranoia, disordered thinking, aggression, and violence. Very similar to ice.

    6. Its not just the marijuana – its also the underlying person.
    You can have happy drunks, talkative drunks, boring drunks, flirty drunks, sleazy drunks, drunks that fall asleep, loud drunks, aggressive drunks, and violent drunks.
    Well, its the same with marijuana. For every calm and relaxed and reflective marijuana user, there is a violent thought disordered user being a pain in the a… and causing trouble.

    7. Emerging data suggests higher car crash rates in US states which have legalised marijuana. Hence the argument that it is safe is false. And hence the argument that legalising won’t lead to increased use is also false. You, your partner, and your children are on the road with these irresponsible d…heads. Crash rates increased more than fatality rates – in part because those people who started using marijuana after legalising were young, who do disproportionately well in car crashes.
    http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Why-the-Latest-Data-on-Marijuana-and-Car-Crashes-Has-Some-Experts-Skeptical.html
    https://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/colorado-marijuana-traffic-fatalities/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/26/what-marijuana-legalization-did-to-car-accident-rates/?utm_term=.b333b47005ea

    8. Plenty of users are < 18. If you don't legalise it for children, there will still be a black market.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Yeah the pot is a sick drug for down and outs. We need more encouragement of the sociable drugs like cocaine and e over that weak brainsh1t!

  15. haroldusMEMBER

    Pixies – Doolittle
    Bloodhound Gang – One Fierce Beercoaster
    Nirvana – In Utero (if you want to freak yourself out a bit)