Cannabis legalisation: A global phenomenon
In 2014, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to fully legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Since then, marijuana users worldwide have become increasingly vocal on the legal status of the substance – many now support legalising cannabis.
As a result, and following the legalisation in Uruguay, governments around the world are now discussing whether to restructure their federal laws on cannabis. Cannabis is now legal in countries such as South Africa (based on a court decision) and fully legal in Canada (based on federal law). In the United States (U.S.) the support for marijuana legalisation is more than double what it was a decade ago. Although marijuana is still illegal at a federal level in the U.S., it is currently legal in 10 states for recreational use.
With the global attitudes towards marijuana trending upwards, we may witness a global welcome to a new global legal marijuana culture in today’s society.
A shift in public support for Australian cannabis laws
Although cannabis has been legalised for medical use in Australia, the drug remains illegal for recreational purposes. In states such as the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and South Australia, the possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalised. Offenders may face fines and penalties if caught, but it’s generally nothing serious. In states such as Queensland and Tasmania, cannabis is still criminally prohibited.
Although still widely prohibited, Australians do not share the stance of their current laws on the legal status of cannabis. Many have a more progressive outlook on legalising the substance for recreational use.
A poll conducted by the Greens – an Australian political party – echoed these shifting views on cannabis policies. There, it was discovered that a majority of Tasmanians support the decriminalisation of cannabis for recreational purposes. The poll of more than 1,100 Tasmanians showed that 59% of the group support legalisation.
The highest support for legalisation was recorded in Denison where 63% of citizens supported legalisation. Only 23% of the population remained averse to cannabis legalisation. In Braddon, a state-wide figure recorded 59% of citizens supported the motion.
These figures echo the conclusion of a study in 2016 by the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. The study showed that Australians support the decriminalisation of cannabis while proving the growing numbers of support for full legalisation.
A shift in political support for Australian cannabis laws
Jarrod Edwards, a Greens candidate for the federal by-election, notes that the legal status of cannabis in Braddon is a big issue. According to Edwards, one in three Australians has admitted to using or trying marijuana at least once. This makes it a widely used drug in the community. Edwards is quoted on saying “We want to decriminalise it because we feel that it takes up a tremendous amount of resources, not only in the court system but through social systems as well.”
The criminalisation of cannabis has the most adverse effects on young people who have drug charges on their records. These charges greatly inhibit their ability to perform certain societal roles. Drug charges can prevent individuals from gaining employment, travelling overseas and even purchasing houses.
Richard Di Natale – the leader of the Greens Party – has declared that his party seeks to decriminalise cannabis use for individuals over 18. According to Natale, prohibition has failed and the illegal status of cannabis has done nothing to hinder its use amongst Australians.
The Green party proposes the creation of an agency that will be the sole wholesaler of cannabis in the nation. This agency will also be responsible for issuing licenses for prospective growers and retailers.
Final words: What could the future hold?
In 2018, a bill proposed to legalise marijuana by the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) garnered overwhelming support. The bill, proposed by a young Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson, received widespread support from both the Labor and Green parties.
Although the bill received the required majority vote, the bid to legalisation may be slowed down by new rules of parliament. Chief Minister Andrew Barr remarks that the debate on Mr Pettersson’s bill may not be rectified for several months.
The set laws and government continue to hamper the progress of pro-legalisation movements in the country where recreational use is concerned. This does little, however, to turn the tide of cannabis legalisation support that’s currently trending in the nation.