Recreational cannabis could be legalised in Australia, under a new plan launched by the Greens on Tuesday. “The war on drugs has failed," said party leader Dr Richard Di Natale. "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."
The Greens' proposal would allow Australians to grow up to six plants for personal use. However, this would be monitored by a new watchdog, the Australian Cannabis Agency, which will impose "strict penalties" for things like selling weed to minors, or growing more than you're allowed to.
"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," Dr 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."
Beyond the implications for the criminal justice system though, the Greens say their plan will also raise significant revenue for the government. By their estimation, the plan could raise hundreds of millions of dollars—some of which would be directed to funding treatment, drug education, and harm reduction more generally.
“Regulating cannabis will give government more control and increase government revenue, which can be used to fund drug prevention and treatment," veteran drug law reform advocate Dr Alex Wodak said. "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."
The idea of legalising and regulating cannabis has seen growing public support in Australia. In a poll conducted by Essential Media last year, 55 percent of respondents said they support the idea.
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.