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Should Canberra legalise marijuana?

By 5 March 2014 67

Photo source: Dank Depot, Flickr, Creative Commons. https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dankdepot/5500916185/in/photostream/
Back in the 90s, Canberra flirted with decriminalising pot. The only noticeable effect at the time was that the police gave up policing it. The ACT has since pulled back from such a position.2013 was a breakthrough year for planet Earth’s pot-lovers. With states and nations across the globe considering, debating or outright legalising the sale and use of marijuana, is it time for Canberra to revisit the issue?

And what’s the current state of play, Rioters – Is pot hard to get? Do you smoke it? Is it to treat your PTSD or do you just like punching a cone before watching the latest torrent of Walking Dead or Game of Thrones?

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67 Responses to
Should Canberra legalise marijuana?
Skidd Marx 1:23 pm
05 Mar 14
#1

Yeah I like to have a joint on Sunday arvo before I crack a beer & watch the footy. I’d prefer a bong but the stigma is too great.

watto23 3:51 pm
05 Mar 14
#2

Actually NZ just passed some laws leaglising “synthetic high” drugs, ie those developed and tested with quality control and no side effects or health issues.
I’m a firm believer the only way to control many of these things is to legalise and tax it.

The problem with these kinds of social issues is those against will use all kind of unproven what if scenarios which scare the politicians into not doing it. Just look at the gay marriage debate and the irrational unproven arguments against it. Drug reform laws are also similarly debated with unproven debate about how everyone will get addicted to illegal drugs.

gungsuperstar 4:28 pm
05 Mar 14
#3

Of course it should be legalised. It’s incredible that we’re a more conservative country than a place where you can buy guns at Walmart.

There is increasing evidence that the schizophrenia or psychosis risk is negligible in people are not already genetically pre-disposed to those conditions. Perhaps we implement a system where you need a mental health check from your doctor before you can buy it – but it’s not a “why you need to use it” test, it’s “are there any reasons you can’t use it.”

Depending on the time of year, Canberra is either extraordinarily easy, or extraordinarily hard to score in. At this time of year it’s not too bad – in a few months it will be difficult. Quality is a bit of a crap shoot in Canberra.

I obviously do smoke it, only recreationally. When I can get it, great. When I can’t get it, that’s fine too.

I was previously a bit ambivalent to the whole legalisation argument, because I’ve never had trouble getting it. So I don’t really care whether or not it’s legal.

What led me to believe in legalisation so strongly was watching a good friend develop a crippling back injury following a workplace injury; watching his condition degenerate; watching him go through the awful side effects of narcotic medication when he’s starting it, stopping it, increasing it, or decreasing it.

This is a ridiculous situation. In what universe are narcotics better for you than pot? In the case of my friend, he knows that narcotics aren’t “better” for him in terms of side effects, but particularly in terms of his pain.

Narcotics make him unable to crap, sleep or exercise, and they don’t really improve his pain much at all.

Pot makes him able to crap, sleep and exercise, and it’s better for his pain as well.

I’m sorry, but in that instance it’s f**king madness that it remains criminalised here. Every time I see my friend his pain has gotten worse, but he’s fighting a brave fight to not increase his reliance on largely ineffective narcotics.

If I didn’t live in a rental place, I’d grow it for him myself.

Tooks 7:03 pm
05 Mar 14
#4

I’m pro-legalisation and have been for a long time. When I smoked it in high school it cost $20 for a stick (1g). Fast forward to 2014 and it costs…$20 for a stick and is ridiculously easy to get. So illegality has not changed its price or availability so what’s the point in keeping it illegal?

What I object to is people trying to convince themselves and others it is a harmless drug when it is anything but. Legalise it, collect tax, and make sure people are properly educated about the potential harm in using it. That’s the way to go imo.

farq 7:56 pm
05 Mar 14
#5

If the ACT goes first, Canberra will be full of stoned tourists year round.

Also I don’t think the current federal government would approve.

On the other hand it would be nice if the people making money from pot were forced to pay some tax and had to comply with health/safety/workplace protections.

farnarkler 8:48 pm
05 Mar 14
#6

We could have some really cool imaginative coffee shops here if they did.

astrojax 9:35 pm
05 Mar 14
#7

nice pic, btw

HiddenDragon 9:59 pm
05 Mar 14
#8

If it works for them, it could work for us:

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/high-tourist-numbers-expected-as-us-states-colorado-and-washington-legalise-recreational-marijuana-20131231-303po.html

Might be a (small) economic offset to the federal cuts (and the lost fireworks revenue) – although we couldn’t quite match Denver’s “mile high” claim…..

arescarti42 10:30 pm
05 Mar 14
#9

From an economics perspective it’s a no brainer.

As others have pointed out, making it illegal doesn’t actually stop people from using it and its readily available.

By making it legal you can regulate and tax it, it’s a clear win for people with chronic pain/health conditions, you eliminate the crime associated with illegal drug dealing, and you eliminate the cost to the police and court system of trying to catch and prosecute people for using it.

In terms of addictiveness and the physical harm it causes, alcohol and tobacco are far, far more dangerous, and yet no one would seriously suggest that we should make either of those illegal.

Spiral 8:21 am
06 Mar 14
#10

In other parts of the world where these drugs have been legalised, what has been the effect on the drug suppliers. Have they happily become legitimate business and paid tax, or given up and gone out of business, or adapted by trying to push their customers onto harder drugs that are still illegal?

NoImRight 9:52 am
06 Mar 14
#11

Im not a user myself but have no real issue with seeing it legal. If its good bad or indifferent its still up to people to make their own life choices.

I do see comparisons with cigarettes etc as something of a non-sequiter though. Its needs to be argued on its own merits not trying to draw a comparison with something else as justification. If cigarettes were illegal would you then stop campaigning for pot?

Nylex_Clock 11:21 am
06 Mar 14
#12

Tooks said :

I’m pro-legalisation and have been for a long time. When I smoked it in high school it cost $20 for a stick (1g). Fast forward to 2014 and it costs…$20 for a stick and is ridiculously easy to get. So illegality has not changed its price or availability so what’s the point in keeping it illegal?

What I object to is people trying to convince themselves and others it is a harmless drug when it is anything but. Legalise it, collect tax, and make sure people are properly educated about the potential harm in using it. That’s the way to go imo.

Agreed. Additionally, prohibition is a massive boost for criminals.

Just reading a book, “Cosa Nostra” by John Dickie:
“The single most important turning point in the history of organized crime in America was…the approval of Prohibition…At one stroke, one of the country’s most lucrative industries was handed over to criminals….Prohibition is estimated to have put $2 billion into the illegal economy before it was abolished in 1933″.
And that’s $2 billion at a time when you’d earn $1,000pa and a house cost $5,000.

Any politician who objects too strenuously is either a mad wowser or is in the pocket of an organised criminal. In either case, they should be ignored.

Antagonist 2:44 pm
06 Mar 14
#13

farq said :

If the ACT goes first, Canberra will be full of stoned tourists year round.

That would be fantastic news for the local café and restaurant owners.

Personally I think the jury is out on recreational use, but there is a very strong case for legalising medicinal marijuana (refer post #3).

obamabinladen 5:12 pm
06 Mar 14
#14

Legalise it and invest the tax revenue back into the canberra economy.

HiddenDragon 5:45 pm
06 Mar 14
#15

astrojax said :

nice pic, btw

I thought so, too – reminded me of a Peter Dombrovskis close-up.

Pork Hunt 7:28 pm
06 Mar 14
#16

I’m in the pro legalisation camp however, how would law enforcement agencies, armed services and the airline pilots federation (just to give an example), deal with legal marijuana if they woke up tomorrow morning and it was so?

Madmax 7:57 pm
06 Mar 14
#17

A 10% GST on weed? Sounds fair.

bundah 11:43 pm
06 Mar 14
#18

Why not, perhaps we could introduce similar criteria as has been adopted by Colorado recently?

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/28/us/10-things-colorado-recreational-marijuana/

Tool 8:49 am
07 Mar 14
#19

Pork Hunt said :

I’m in the pro legalisation camp however, how would law enforcement agencies, armed services and the airline pilots federation (just to give an example), deal with legal marijuana if they woke up tomorrow morning and it was so?

It would be no diff to alcohol, all those mentioned work places would outlaw its use. You would however see an increase in enforcement targeting drug driving, it would be a win win, all those who feel a need to smoke it can; they will then pay tax on their purchase, pay fines when they drive under the influence, and boost public transport use…

astrojax 12:50 pm
07 Mar 14
#20

as use of weed is pretty broad, i would like to see some stats on what sort of usage increase we’d expect to see from its legalisation; what sort of revenue would be drawn for the community from its legalisation; what economic and social benefits (more judicial system time for crime with a victim, for example, and dismantling of some criminal structures currently premised on this illicit product) would flow from its legalisation; and some analysis of social disruptions and costs compared to licit drugs [booze and fags] that would flow from its legalisation and compared to its current use.

i anticipate that legalisation would be the obvious choice if these analyses were undertaken and the legislature took due recognisance of them. but i’m not holding my breath under the current abhorrent [federal] government…

Deref 1:59 pm
07 Mar 14
#21

Of course it should. What a silly question.

MMR 2:46 pm
07 Mar 14
#22

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

Antagonist 4:43 pm
07 Mar 14
#23

MMR said :

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

You would find the same response from mental health workers no matter what substance you were talking about, whether that be alcohol, weed, mushrooms, opium based prescribed medications, or just about any other substance for that matter. But medicinal marijuana serves a purpose, and it actually works. It is also far less dangerous than the majority of the legal alternatives. This is why so many countries are legalising it. There is a shedload of evidence coming from the medical community that supports this view.

It is not the supporters of legalisation that don’t have much of a brain to begin with, MMR …

** I do not drink or smoke.

gungsuperstar 5:47 pm
07 Mar 14
#24

MMR said :

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

Or we could just go off our own personal experiences of not having these impacts?

The whole argument is crap when we have legalised alcohol which causes more social problems than pot ever could – more violence, more addicts, more broken families.

Pork Hunt said :

I’m in the pro legalisation camp however, how would law enforcement agencies, armed services and the airline pilots federation (just to give an example), deal with legal marijuana if they woke up tomorrow morning and it was so?

Again – the same way they deal with alcohol.

Pork Hunt 6:06 pm
07 Mar 14
#25

MMR said :

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

Can I talk to the same person about tobacco and alcohol as well?

arescarti42 7:07 pm
07 Mar 14
#26

MMR said :

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

If keeping it illegal actually stopped people from using it, then the problems you’ve described wouldn’t exist.

Tooks 8:40 pm
07 Mar 14
#27

MMR said :

Canberra sure has its fill of dumb people, such as those above suggesting this drug should be legalised. Go and have a talk to mental health staff about the effects of using this crap or take a visit to a mental health facility and see for yourself the damage it does. But I guess if you didn’t have much of a brain to begin with……

I’ve spoken with many MH workers. Don’t try to speak on their behalf because I guarantee you that plenty are pro legalisation.

gooterz 9:04 pm
07 Mar 14
#28

At least make it a government run monopoly. That’ll give jobs to all the put of work pubes.

Tool 6:20 pm
08 Mar 14
#29

Marijuana is very different to alcohol. There is proven research into the prolonged use of alcohol, the various dosages over periods of time, and the pros and consfof the substance. We all know using it in moderation at small levels causes negligible damage to the body and may actually assist in certain circumstances. Marijuana however does not have the same research and proven results. Yes there is an obvious medical benefit for pain management which I support, but there is also significant ongoing research to show those who are prolific users are likely to develop mental health issues.

At the end of the day we have had weak as water laws that have hardly proved a deterrent, and now it is impossible to backtrack. Are we now facing the result of the sins of our fathers? There is a lot to be gained from militant rule, civil libertarians dont actually care what their cause is or how it impacts on society, they are issue focused only and we somehow entertain their ideals….

Az 11:39 am
09 Mar 14
#30

Nice contributions and some thoughtful debate.

If the above is any indication of general attitudes (anecdotal evidence suggests it is), then this seems to be a discussion the wider community should be having.

Where do ACT political parties stand on the issue? I assume it’s Greens for decriminalisation/legalisation(?) of dope use, Liberals opposed and Labor split down factional lines, but that’s probably too simplistic.

I know a few Young Liberals who love a puff, but I’d doubt they’d admit it openly.

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