The odds in favor of legalization
This festive season might get even better for marijuana advocates: the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) is expected soon to legalize cannabis for personal use. With growing public acceptance of the plant, social norms are beginning to change. Such change has finally begun to transform the views of legislators, as the ACT Labor party is planning to support a cannabis bill unilaterally.
Out of the 25 seats in the ACT assembly, the Labor party enjoys 12. This means that unilateral support of the party will leave the bill only one vote shy of legalization. It seems certain that a single vote won’t be such a difficult task to overcome.
The bill, to be presented in the assembly in December, just might mean even more reason to celebrate this festive season — in the event it eventually passes, of course. However, it’s important to note that the said law might not be debated until February 2019. Further, even with the required number of votes, it remains unclear how the legalization of cannabis would proceed without conflict, considering the fact that the crop remains illegal at the federal level.
The bill’s framework
The bill under consideration contains several factors. However, a quick summary of the framework can be described as follows:
- Decriminalization of possession, by an adult, of four plants, or 50 grams or less, of marijuana.
- No public smoking of marijuana, and no smoking within a 20-meter radius of a child.
- Artificial and synthetic cultivation of the drug will remain a punishable offense.
- Smoking cannabis while driving will remain a punishable offense.
Does the public support the bill?
According to research, the majority of Canberra’s citizens — 54% — support the use of cannabis for personal use, while only 27% oppose legalization. Perhaps the middle ground requires a sensible approach centered on recommendations to legalize only small quantities of cannabis for personal use.
The fact remains, that where the vast majority of citizens support reform, it would be unfair to incarcerate citizens over cannabis possession. In fact, decriminalization is likely to result in several advantages.
Advantages of legalization
Legalization of cannabis will give birth to a new industry. Expect the legal marijuana industry to create new job opportunities, along with exponential growth for associated businesses. Imagine a green economy — one with millions of dollars in tax revenue and significant reductions in policing and court budgets and costs. Also, the industry will provide farmers with a new crop of high demand, thereby improving their standard of living.
View of the health sector
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is flatly against the legalization of cannabis for personal use. The association points to the well-documented health risks of marijuana. Furthermore, the AMA is worried about how cannabis will interact with different people.
As far as the AMA is concerned, the current scope, which includes cultivation of cannabis in small quantities, works well enough. The health sector wants a drug free Australia – a concept which is most likely unachievable.
A primary aim for the legalization of cannabis for personal use is reducing the dependency of local customers on the black market — or drug dealers. Such a law will enable customers to buy genuine cannabis products openly, without worrying about a jail sentence or social stigma. Such freedom has the ability to create a safer environment by eliminating dangers brought by the need for citizens to interact with criminals, and also by creating a safe, business-minded, cannabis market in stores.
Final Words: Roadblocks in legalization and implementation
Unlike Canada, the ACT will struggle hard to implement retail-style cannabis legalization, owing to the different commonwealth powers. The primary area of difficulty will lie in implementing the law while it remains illegal under federal law.
However, regardless of any difficulties and roadblocks, legalizing personal marijuana use seems to be inevitable. Though the legalization process in Canberra is taking time, support of legalization by residents is growing fast. Within a few decades, the cannabis market, which currently stands at $18 million, is expected to be worth billions. Considering the economic benefits, it seems to be only a matter of time before roadblocks are overcome and implementation questions are answered.