Spencer Kellogg | United States
The Green Party of Australia has proposed a new bill that would fully legalize cannabis within the country. The legislation would allow Australian citizens to legally grow up to six plants in their home & create standards for selling cannabis in licensed shops.
Green Party Leader Richard Di Natale has been a vocal advocate for immediate change. Mr. Natale and fellow Greens have lashed out against harsh criminal sentences & the failed approach of prohibition in Australia.
I've just announced the Greens' national plan to legalise cannabis for adult use. This is a major step forward for drug law reform in Australia.
— Richard Di Natale (@RichardDiNatale) April 16, 2018
The legislation represents the first time that a major political party in Australia has called for cannabis legalization. In 2016, the Coalition & Labor Party proposed legislation that would decriminalize cannabis for medicinal users only.
Aussie media were quick to attack the legislation with some calling the proposal a stunt. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt dismissed the initiative and labeled marijuana a “gateway drug.”
Health Minister @GregHuntMP on the Greens pushing to legalise cannabis: 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.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 17, 2018
This isn’t Mr. Natale’s first foray into the media spotlight. Last month, the Green Party leader called for a nationalized “People’s Bank” to address growing housing affordability & savings concerns.
In 2017, Australian authorities arrested nearly 80,000 citizens for pot-related crimes. Although marijuana can cause health and psychological issues, the pattern of abuse and the physical toll on a user is much less severe than alcohol or cigarettes. According to statistics from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, over 35% of Australians have consumed cannabis.
In a conversation with The Guardian, Mr. Natale discussed reforming Australia’s archaic cannabis laws.
It drives people away from getting help when they need it and exposes them to a dangerous black market. Our plan to create a legal market for cannabis production and sale will reduce the risks, but the business model of criminal dealers and syndicates and protect young people from unfair criminal prosecutions.
Australia would join a growing list of nations and American States that have legalized the manufacturing, selling and consuming of the drug. In a recent poll, over 30% of Australians were in favor of full legalization.
Proponents of the bill suggest the legislation would expand civil liberties in the country and help create a new tax revenue base. Although the opposition has suggested the move could trigger poor societal outcomes, a recent Cato report proposed otherwise.
Though the measure is likely to fail, cannabis activists continue to see gainful traction in their collective goal to legalize the plant.
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