17 April 2018Hot off the Press
Image credit: Brett Levin (Flickr)
Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced on Monday that a national plan to legalise marijuana is currently underway in his party.
At present, cannabis is only legal for medical purposes, however, Mr Di Natale explained his stance on Monday, saying that, “Prohibition has failed. 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 policy will stipulate that anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited to purchase the drug.
An Australian Cannabis Agency would also be initiated to issue licenses for production and sale of cannabis where the agency would be able to monitor and enforce license conditions.
The policy statement also specifies that a maximum of six cannabis plants can be grown for personal use and the Australian Cannabis Agency will impose strict penalties for any black market or underage activity.
The announcement has sparked considerable debate and controversy, with Health Minister Greg Hunt responding to the policy, saying, “This has two major consequences: the first is the risk of physical and mental health problems, and the second is that marijuana is a gateway drug.”
Much of the arguments posed by the Greens focus on regulating cannabis in order to reduce mass illegal production and sales, enabling a safer and easier avenue for treatment and protecting young people from unfair criminal prosecutions.
“We need to get real about cannabis,” Mr Natale said. “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.”
The Greens also argued that the plan is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the Federal Budget, which could be used for treatment, education, and harm reduction programs.