Aussies want feds to butt out of ACT’s marijuana legalisation

Last month, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed laws legalising the recreational use of marijuana, which will allow residents aged over 18 to possess up to 50 grams and grow two plants from next year.

This has garnered a strong backlash from the federal government, which labelled the legislation “dangerous” and has threatened to block the laws.

A new special Roy Morgan online survey shows that 62% of Australians do not want the Federal Government to overturn the new ACT law decriminalising cannabis for personal use:

Clear majorities of all age groups are against the Federal Government stepping in and overturning the law, led by 66% of 35-49 year olds and 63% of 14-24 year olds. The smallest majority is in the 65 and over age-group, but even here 58% do not want the law overturned.

These are the latest findings from a special Roy Morgan online survey conducted with a representative cross-section of 1,054 Australians aged 14+ in mid-October. People surveyed were asked: “Are you aware the ACT recently passed laws to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis?” Respondents were then asked: “The new law in the ACT conflicts with Commonwealth laws prohibiting the possession of cannabis. Do you believe the Federal Government should step in and overturn the ACT’s new law that legalises the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis?”…

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine [says]… “as well as reflecting changing community attitudes to the drug, this result shows Australians are hesitant about Federal Government intervention in the affairs of other jurisdictions such as the ACT. There is precedent here which respondents may or may not be aware of. Although the Northern Territory legalised euthanasia in 1996, the newly elected Howard Government intervened to overturn the law the following year.”

The ACT is simply following in the footsteps of several other Anglosphere nations, which have already legalised the recreational use of marijuana. These include eleven state across the United States and Canada.

The Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation has also thrown its support behind legalising marijuana:

Cannabis arrests have accounted for the largest proportion of illicit drug arrests in Australia. In 2015-16, of the two million Australians who use cannabis every year there were almost 80,000 cannabis arrests…

Of these arrests, the overwhelming majority (90 per cent) were consumers while the remainder (10 per cent) were providers. Yet in 2017, 92 per cent of drug users reported in a national survey that obtaining hydroponic cannabis was “easy” or “very easy” while 75 per cent reported obtaining bush cannabis was “easy” or “very easy”…

Drug policy has surprisingly little effect, if any, on consumption patterns but does produce serious harm…

A study comparing residents of more liberal Amsterdam and more punitive San Francisco using the same methodology found less illicit drug use (including cannabis) in Amsterdam and a far greater likelihood that San Francisco residents were also offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine on the most recent occasion of trying to buy cannabis…

Logically, there is no good reason to prohibit marijuana use when consuming both alcohol and tobacco – both arguably worse substances – are permitted.

Australia’s court system and jails should be reserved for genuine criminals.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)

Comments

  1. Australia’s court system and jails should be reserved for genuine criminals.

    There is a whole industry of lawyers, private prisons and drug testing companies that lobby hard against such sensible ideas.

    What the people of Australia want and what the government will let them have are two very different things.

  2. bolstroodMEMBER

    The real winners of the drug wars are the big crime syndicats.
    Politicians who call for tougher laws are complicit, and willing dupes of these organisations..

    • There are also plenty of “winners” in the incarcerations business, not to mention the members of the police force who enjoy feeling up teenagers or randomly and arbitrarily exercising power over others.

  3. And we don’t even have a prisons-for-profit system do we? (how come that hasn’t been privatised).

    I read that there have been over 100 deaths from vaping in the US in recent times and from what I can gather it is because the stuff they are vaping has concentrated THC in it. With dope THC bad v CBD good apparently.

    • At the federal level, Im sure the likes of Dutton are looking at profit making prisons run by private parasite companies who will demand quotas of prisoners to make it all work, just like in the USA