Once again, the national weed week is upon us, and the most appropriately named political party has unveiled their plan to fully legalise recreational cannabis use in Australia.
The Greens have today laid out their plan to once and for all, legalise cannabis in Australia, bringing us up to speed with Spain, Uruguay, nine of the United States, and – depending on how this year pans out – potentially both Canada and New Zealand as well.
“The war on drugs has failed,” said leader Richard Di Natale. “Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. It’s time Australian joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use.”
Their plan would see cannabis essentially treated the same as alcohol: legal for people over the age of 18, a strictly regulated market, and harsh penalties for anyone caught supplying drugs to underage people.
It would also allow for Aussies to grow up to six plants for personal use.
Right now, it accounts for the most illicit drug arrests across Australia, with arrests hitting a record high in 2015-16 at 79,643 people arrested.
“We need to get real about cannabis. Almost seven million Australians have tried or used cannabis socially but right now just having a small amount of cannabis in your possession could get you a criminal record,” said Di Natale.
“Prohibition has failed. Using cannabis remains illegal, but this has not stopped Australians from using it.”
According to the latest stats from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, some 35 percent of Aussies have used cannabis. We’re using it in huge numbers – for a variety of reasons – despite it being illegal, forcing people into purchasing strains of unknown quality and strength.
Under the Greens’ plan, an Australian Cannabis Agency would be established, becoming the sole wholesaler across the country and basically overseeing the whole operation.
It would then be able to tax the sale of legal weed, generating millions for the Federal Budget and injecting that back into harm reduction programs.
“The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue,” said Di Natale. “Our plan to create a legal market for cannabis production and sale will reduce the risks, bust the business model of criminal dealers and syndicates and protect young people from unfair criminal prosecutions.”
The plan has the backing of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, a body that works to take a harm reduction approach to drugs.
President Alex Wodak – who pioneered the controversial but ultimately successful legal injecting centres, and is a strong advocate for pill testing at festivals – welcomed the news.
“Banning cannabis hasn’t reduced its use or availability yet it has distracted police from following up more serious crimes, harmed a lot of young people and helped make some criminals rich,” he said.
“Regulating cannabis will give government more control and increase government revenue, which can be used to fund drug prevention and treatment.”
Legalising cannabis also has the backing of the Australian public, with a 2017 poll of 1,000 people showing that 55 percent of Aussies support legalisation, with 26 percent opposing.
And while Australia has made some steps forward in legalising medicinal cannabis – it’s currently legal in a highly restricted capacity in all states and territories – this is the first time a major party has gone out, guns blazing, to just legalise weed already.
The slow-moving nature of legalising medicinal marijuana and the current state of criminalisation is also putting vulnerable people in danger, with those who use medicinal marijuana forced onto less effective drugs once the law steps in.
So now, Di Natale is calling on “political parties of all stripes to join the Greens in committing to just legalise it” already. Honestly, same.
P.S. – 4/20 is this Friday, if you had plans to make / get out of.
Image: AAP / WA Police
Happy 6th Anniversary of Rihanna rolling a blunt on her bodyguard’s head at Coachella ✌???? pic.twitter.com/hsZaDQpDQH
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) April 14, 2018