Apr 18, 2018

Look at the evidence — Greens’ pot plan makes a whole lot of sense

The current policy settings around cannabis are clearly failing. Richard Di Natale is right to try to find an alternative.

Greg Barns — Barrister and writer

Greg Barns

Barrister and writer

Greens leader Richard Di Natale’s push to legalise cannabis makes sense at so many levels, not least of which is a correlated reduction in general crime rates which is highly likely to occur if weed is no longer sold on the black market.

In those American jurisdictions that have legalised cannabis for recreational and medical purposes there has been a marked drop in property crimes and crimes of violence.

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40 thoughts on “Look at the evidence — Greens’ pot plan makes a whole lot of sense

  1. Marcus Hicks

    Now now, Greg, you can’t be bringing *facts* into policy making :p. The Libs-& even Labor-are far too busy pandering to the Prohibitionists (usually the Religious Right), whilst conveniently ignoring the far greater social & economic damage done via abuse of legal drugs like alcohol & cigarettes.

    1. bref

      Its not just the religious right, its the right in general. Its really time this country’s politicians stopped listening to dumbass shock jocks like John Laws or Ray Hadley who’s views on these matters come straight out of 50s America, and look how thats turned out for them. In fact look at how current laws have turned out for Australia.
      As GB noted above, virtually everyone involved at a legal or medical level have known for many years that we have to change our ways if we want things to improve. We now have imperial data from countries like Portugal, who decriminalised drug use in conjunction with a host of other measures and have experienced dramatic changes for the good in their society.

      1. bref

        I meant empirical data of course 🙂

  2. Smit

    The problem is that cannabis has medicinal uses that will displace some pharmaceuticals.

    1. Dog's Breakfast

      And will bite into profits for alcohol and possibly tobacco companies (although it may increase tobacco use, who can say!)

  3. Teddy

    “…“legalization of recreational marijuana caused a significant reduction of rapes and thefts”

    Wow, that is just so weird. What this evidence suggest is that pot users will commit worst crimes imaginable (violence against females) unless they can buy their preferred drug cheaply and legally over the counter.

    Whatever happened to the peaceful pot smoker who was supposedly less dangerous to themselves and others than drinkers? They’ll kill (and rape) to get stoned?

    But I suppose I’ll be told that its the dealers and the growers who are the rapists and murderers of those US stats – and they’ll all pop off to reform school and become respectable businessmen once their only customer is the government agency the Greens are proposing. Trouble is, unless all drugs (including ecstasy, ice and heroin) are sold in those government supported shops DiNatale seems to think will pop up in every suburban high street (just watch the neighbourhood NIMBYs go berserk!), all those dealers will still be in business.

    1. Marcus Hicks

      ….and as if on cue, here we have one such loony Prohibitionist. Did you bother to read the actual article, showing that legalisation actually works? Or are all conservatives functionally illiterate?

      1. Robin

        Well, actually, he did. The point he made was that the crimes that were supposedly reduced because of legalisation are not crimes normally associated with cannabis use. Rape? Hardly! Theft? Well, maybe, I guess, but only if you assume that lots of people steal to feed their cannabis habit — oh, wait, cannabis isn’t addictive, is it, so there’s no such thing as a cannabis habit. So the reason for the reduction in the rate of theft is exactly what?

        And did you notice that the statistics quoted were for “those areas of Washington that border Oregon”? But cannabis was legalised in the whole of Washington and the whole of Oregon. So what about the rest of those states?

        1. Marcus Hicks

          Aww, here comes another semi-literate prohibitionist troll. Do you have any clue how expensive illegal marijuana is? Maybe not as expensive as heroin or cocaine, but still very costly. Also, the specially bred stuff sold by illegal dealers is allegedly really nasty stuff…..nothing like what people used to regularly smoke in the 1960’s to 1980’s. The point the author is clearly trying to make is that, in spite of all the ranting & raving about a crime spike if marijuana is legalised, we actually see crime rates dropping across the board. Oh, & this is speaking as someone who has never smoked cigarettes or smoked a joint……but I still see no reason why Marijuana is seen as worse than smoking. Yet that is how the moronic prohibitionists try to paint it.

      2. Teddy

        Thanks for the ad hominem Marcus (on cue indeed). I’m not a prohibitionist, I was taking issue with the stats quoted in the article which just seemed weird to me… Nor was I arguing for the clearly unacceptable status quo.

        But the Greens policy of a government supported and promoted industry of growers, distributors and retailers (profit-motivated franchises, or public servants? Has DiNatale spelt that out?) dispensing one drug and one drug alone – the one no doubt favoured by most of the party’s supporters – is a badly-conceived thought bubble hardly worthy of serious discussion.

        1. bref

          Teddy, I appreciate that you don’t find the status quo acceptable. What remedies do you see, aside from decriminalisation, that haven’t been tried already. If we were to start last century with the objective to make the drug problem what it is today, we would do exactly what we have done.

    2. kyle Hargraves

      “What this evidence suggest is that pot users will commit worst crimes imaginable”

      Ease up Teddy. I have some regard for Barns when he is writing as a lawyer but, on this matter, he has displayed himself as a lousy statistician or at least a writer in sore need of a 50 hour on-line course in basic stats. The references that Barns has offered are “thin” to say the least (see my post that follows – down the line).

      As to your question perhaps the would-be criminals have taken to pot and now suffer from various suppressible-belligerent and sexual dysfunctions. Just kidding. Don’t worry too much about it. The overall argument as to making cannabis legal (as it once was) is sound.

      Even if the environments that provided for the procurement of cannabis as a legal good experienced no change in recorded crime the venture would still be justified.

      As to the current vendors a market in “hard” drugs will always exist because, like gambling etc. a significant minority of people are fundamentally un-disciplined (read the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald and others). A sizable minority need hard drugs to make them feel good and such isn’t going to change in the short term.

      Physical transportation might “solve” the hard drug problem as indeed the resettlement of refos in Green electorates.

  4. AR

    Broadcasting’s ever reliable Dimwit Duo, Blot & the Poison Dwarf, have been going apeshit for the last two evenings during the mutual tongue bath on HateRadio.
    Nothing new there but the sheer audacity is even more mendacious than usual with claims that legalisation will increase crime & violence, cost gazillions more in health care and embolden criminals.
    I really recommend that people download the Mon & Tues segments just for the sheer outrageous comedy.
    Blot now has a segment on his massively unwatched SKY show in which he and a guest get stuck into massively expensive whiskys – no connections surely.

    1. bref

      Pardon my ignorance, but who are Blot and Poison Dwarf?

      1. MAC TEZ

        Andrew Bolt & Steve Price, 2GB radio,Sydney.

        1. bref

          Thank you Mac and I concur with AR. I happened to be in my wife’s car the other morning and caught John Law’s ridiculous diatribe of nonsense.
          Whats his tag by the way?

          1. MAC TEZ

            Can’t help you with a tag for Laws Bref but don’t ever tune into Blot & P.D. if you’ve been hitting the herb… that pair are a total buzz killer !

  5. Evil Garry

    Great article Greg. I let out a deep sigh when I saw the Herald Scum headline on this yesterday. ‘Greens Gone To Pot’ it screamed, although I’m sure the Greens had a similar policy back in their early years, so it wasn’t exactly an earth-shattering event. The HS trotted out the usual suspects against the idea, such as a VP of the AMA, as well as Police Association Secretary Greg Davies who comes from the old school right wing coppers brigade, and who had the gall to say that legalisation would INCREASE crime. Talk about convoluted logic, but poor old Greg wasn’t considered the sharpest tool in the detective box by his former police colleagues. He even brought up the hoary old ‘gateway drug’ argument that was refuted eons ago. I suspect he thinks ‘Reefer Madness’ was a documentary.

    Yes, there are good reasons not to smoke grass. If you have a predisposiiton to schizophrenia or some other mental conditions it’s a really bad idea, but if you have a predisposition to alcoholism it’s a bad idea to drink booze, and we don’t ban that do we? We don’t legislate to prevent people with a family history of lung cancer from smoking tobacco. We generally give our population the right to do whatever they want in their own lives if they freely choose to do it and understand the risks therein, when their actions don’t impinge on other people, even where there might be some medical risks. Why the obsession with putting weed in a different category, essentially on the same level as a scumbag drug like Ice or GHB?

    Of interest today were the signifcant amount of letters to the editor printed in the HS which supported the idea of legalisation, in spite of their strident editorial line yesterday. I generally find it hard to take any editorialising in the HS very seriously (Blot, Panahi, McCrann et al), and in this case I find it quite funny when I think back to all the HS journos and staff I shared a joint with back when I used to partake. Just another bunch of MSM hypocrites.

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    “whose only motive is to profit from keeping us stoned and stupid”

    The commenter reveals much about themselves, and very little knowledge of grass. Your conflation of stoned and stupid is pretty standard, and largely wrong from my experience, and not based on any real research.

    Most studies suggest that people with higher intellects are the ones more likely to venture down the path of ‘mind-altering substances’. ooooh, mind altering!

    The problem with that is the assumption that mind altering is somehow a debilitating experience, and yet I have experienced countless mind altering experiences, and always it was beneficial. Some of those were from meditation, practiced for years, and some was from grass, also practiced for years. Both highly beneficial.

    And it doesn’t surprise me so much about seemingly unconnected drops in crime. One thing that dope often does is makes you think differently, sometimes see that your brain is in a downward spiral, and can give a jolt to show you how a different perspective can change everything. It tends to reduce the urge to react, or to act in anger, and except for those poor souls who aren’t well suited to the effects, many would benefit from an occasional spliff.

    Of greater interest is that if it went commercial, companies could develop better methods of ingestion, from oils to cookies etc, and eliminate the worst aspect of dope, that you have to smoke it (unless you want to go to a shiteload of trouble, and what stoner wants to do that?)

  7. Cgdtsdevgf

    The issue of legalising and carefully regulating cannabis is both a good example of the need for society to change their perspective about ‘illegal drugs’ in general and consequently a window of opportunity to significantly reduce all of the harms that are associated with taking drugs.

    There is a significant potential for policy development on the basis of harm minimisation, that can only be made through objective and independent research, for the legalisation and careful regulation of all illegal drugs, on a case by case basis.

    While I have briefly tried marijuana as a much younger person and never took it up as a habit, I have held this point of view on ‘illegal drugs’ for a very long time.

    Harm minimisation, thoroughly backed by scientific research, the legalisation and careful regulation of all illegal drugs on an individual basis, needle exchanges, safe consumption rooms (injecting rooms) that are administered under very close governmental, medical and nursing supervision, is a no-brainer for me and many other people in the community today.

    I well remember four individuals who caused irreparable harm in Australia from the 1990s onwards, by supporting a ‘law and order’ drug-free approach to these issues.

    Former prime minister John Howard, then Health Minister Tony Abbott, former Senator Bronwyn Bishop and Major Brian Watters of the Salvation Army.

    Howard and company tried to ensure that Australia would remain in a Dark Age by continuing the criminalisation of drugs with his ‘tough on drugs’ mantra, and by cancelling the funding and authorisation of the ANU’s John Curtain School of Medicine heroin trial.

    You can read all of the political machinations from this link.


  8. gjb

    It has been time to decriminalize marijuana for decades. Fear and propaganda have clouded the process in the past but by now the majority of adults would have smoked pot at some stage and realised its not in the same category as highly addictive drugs like cocaine, opiates & meth.
    Just need to reduce harm caused by driving and exacerbation of mental health conditions.
    I’m for home grown, surely it will have the added benefit of getting people gardening , easy to grow food if your already got the motivation to grow pot.

  9. Teddy

    I’ve copped a lot of abuse in this thread, the sort of comments that reveal more about the person making them than the argument I put.

    Which in all the 26 inputs here, only one other person has addressed. What the Greens are proposing and Greg Barns is supporting is not the decriminalisation of the use of all drugs like the Portuguese model (which I would support, btw) but the legalisation (that’s different from decriminalisation) of one drug and one drug only – cannabis.

    Which means that the billion dollar illegal drug industry and all the problems associated with it would still exist. I’m surprised by the stats Greg Barns has quoted which suggest that cannabis use is associated with violence and rape – and by why he would toss them into the ring in the first place. Genuinely surprised, but not as much as by poor quality of the discussion they produced.

    1. bref

      After so many decades of failed drug programmes even our dumbest politicians know what doesn’t work. For me it would be a breakthrough if our major parties even acknowledged that we have to start doing things differently, let alone have the balls to actually follow through.

  10. Hoojakafoopy

    It’s in the interests of those making big profits from illicit substances to maintain the high price and allure of those substances via their prohibition. Those who promote prohibition are working for the crime bosses.

    1. Marcus Hicks

      Yes, in spite of his claims to the contrary, it is abundantly obvious that Teddy the Troll is speaking for the Crime Bosses. As an obvious Liberal Party voter, that makes sense, given the long established links between the Liberal Party & strongly alleged members of Organised Crime.

      1. bref

        Isn’t it the advantage of decriminalisation over legalisation that in the former anyone can grow it, use it and share it as long as there’s no profit involved.

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