Politics

Blaze It: The Greens Want To Legalise Recreational Pot

Just in time for 4/20.

In a major shift in drugs policy in Australia, the Greens have announced a new policy that would make it legal for adults to buy and consume marijuana products recreationally.

Announcing the policy tonight, Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who worked as a doctor and public health specialist before entering Parliament, said the war on drugs has “failed”, and it’s time to re-think how the government approaches harm reduction and drug education in Australia.

“Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. It’s time Australia joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use,” Di Natale said.

“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.”

Prior to tonight, the Greens supported increased access to medical marijuana, but stopped short of endorsing recreational use.

“Using cannabis remains illegal, but this has not stopped Australians from using it,” Di Natale said.

“As a drug and alcohol doctor, I’ve seen that the ‘tough on drugs’ approach causes enormous harm. It drives people away from getting help when they need it and exposes them to a dangerous black market.

“The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. 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.

So What Actually Is The Greens’ Policy?

The centrepiece of the Greens’ new policy is the establishment of the Australian Cannabis Agency, which would regulate and tax the sale of cannabis, and become the sole wholesaler of cannabis to small retailers.

Many of the the party’s proposed rules for recreational marijuana are similar to those that already apply to the sale of tobacco and alcohol products. This would include plain packaging for all marijuana products and a requirement for marijuana retailers to undergo training similar to the Responsible Sale Of Alcohol course.

Anyone who buys cannabis would need to show ID to prove they’re over 18, and all advertising of cannabis products would be banned. The policy would impose strict penalties for anyone caught selling weed on the black market, and for anyone caught driving under the influence.

And good news if you love indoor plants: The new policy would allow anyone to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal use. Currently, residents of the ACT can have up to two cannabis plants.

GST would apply to all cannabis sales. The Greens claim the policy would raise “hundreds of millions of dollars” that could be funnelled into mental health, drug treatment and drug education services.

Prominent drug decriminalisation advocate Dr Alex Wodak, who has also fought for legal pill testing at music festivals, has praised the policy.

“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,” Wodak said.

“Regulating cannabis will give government more control and increase government revenue, which can be used to fund drug prevention and treatment.”