provided to the committee captured a wide range of views on the proposed
removal of all Commonwealth restrictions on cannabis. While some inquiry
participants strongly supported the bill, others vehemently opposed any
relaxation of existing Commonwealth prohibitions.
This chapter sets
out the support for the bill in evidence received by the committee, before outlining
the concerns that were raised by some inquiry participants. In turn, this
chapter sets out the committee's views and recommendations.
Support for the bill
the bill argued that removing Commonwealth restrictions on cannabis would:
civil rights of Australians by allowing greater personal choice for cannabis
current disproportionality between what they considered the minor health harms
of cannabis use on the one hand, with the significant costs of criminalising
cannabis users and the costs of prohibition and law enforcement on the other;
range of benefits to the Australian economy, including reducing the costs of
prohibition and lifting Commonwealth tax revenues from a legal cannabis market.
apparent benefits of the bill, as argued by a number of inquiry participants,
are considered further below.
choice and civil rights
The bill is
premised in the principle that 'Adults should be free to make their own
choices, as long as they do not harm others'.
Some submitters strongly supported this position, arguing that the consumption
of cannabis should be a choice made by an individual, rather than subject to
360 Edge submitted that cannabis use should be a matter of personal choice,
arguing that since cannabis only has minor health harms, its use should not be
subject to Commonwealth oversight:
cannabis prohibition as an infringement on civil rights, citing the limited
harms associated with cannabis use. This includes the relatively low rate of
dependence and very low likelihood of overdosing on cannabis, as well as the low risk of harms to people using
activities that are legal are potentially harmful: driving a car, drinking alcohol, bungee jumping. Rather than
making them illegal, there are guidelines, laws and education to make them
safer that creates a balance between civil liberties and safety.
whose name was withheld advised the committee that it was not only recreational
users whose civil rights were compromised by cannabis prohibitions, but also
those who were unable to obtain access to medicinal cannabis to manage chronic medical
drug use, for whatever reason; whether medicinal or recreational; is a personal
health and personal choice matter and therefore, it is a Human Rights matter....The
right to [choose] is a basic Human Right now being denied.
A number of
submitters and witnesses argued that there is widespread support the
legalisation of cannabis in the Australian community, while suggesting that
decriminalisation may help further reduce the stigma of its use, both for recreational
and medicinal purposes.
For example, the Eros Foundation observed that '[nearly] 75% of Australians are
in favour of decriminalising cannabis and around a quarter support
of health harms and criminal sanctions
The bill is
premised in the assertion that cannabis is less harmful than other substances
that are legal to purchase and consume in Australia, particularly alcohol and
tobacco. Some evidence received supported this view, and argued the alleged health
harms of cannabis use have been over-stated, especially when considered against
the real harms done by criminalisation of users.
Mr Bill Bush, the President of Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform (FFDLR),
of a tough law-enforcement approach argue that cannabis is harmful,
particularly to mental health, but proponents of a hardline [approach] habitually
exaggerate these harms. The big bogey is the asserted link between cannabis and
schizophrenia and psychosis. But a study of 600,000 patients in the United
Kingdom over 11 years when there was a substantial rise in UK cannabis use
found stable or declining incidence and prevalence of schizophrenia and
psychoses. In short, this study did not find any evidence of increasing
schizophrenia or psychoses in the general population from 1996 to 2005.
contrast, the harms to health directly caused by cannabis use—those flowing
from the criminalisation of cannabis—are manifest and severe. Arresting some
73,000 cannabis users a year is certainly not deterring Australians from using
cannabis, but it sure uses up a lot of law enforcement resources, wrecks the
life chances of many young Australians and wrecks state and territory budgets,
which in 2004–05 took a hit of $2.2 billion for crime costs attributable
to illicit drugs.
Dr Alex Wodak,
a physician with over 40 years of clinical experience, submitted that the
'[harms] from cannabis are dwarfed by the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco'.
A name withheld submitter who uses cannabis echoed this view:
experience is that whatever problems cannabis may cause, they pale into
insignificance when compared to the issues that prohibition has bought us. Many
others suffer the same as myself and because of the demonisation and
misunderstanding in the community, we are second class citizens who are treated
like lepers and are too afraid to stand up for what is right because of the
draconian and heavy hand of the law.
Professor Ian W. Webster AO, a physician providing primary healthcare,
supported the bill, submitting that current criminal sanctions mean:
already impaired persons are further disadvantaged by the risk of being
criminalised when they use cannabis to manage their life problems, and,
in attempting to treat the complex medical problems of patients using cannabis
and other substances, primary health care providers (general practitioners) are
at risk of jeopardising their professional standing.
FFDLR argued that
the traditional view of cannabis as a 'gateway drug' for more serious
substances had been disproven, and the illegal status of the drug did not act
as a deterrent for its use:
say with confidence, though, that the illicit status of cannabis does little if
anything to dissuade young people from trying it.
frequently said that cannabis is a gateway drug to other more dangerous ones.
This idea is commonly bandied around by those who defend criminal prohibition.
Cannabis often does come before use of harder drugs like methamphetamine and
heroin but so does alcohol and tobacco. The link is not pharmacological but
sociological and psychological...
suggested that rates of cannabis use would not necessarily lift following a
relaxation of prohibitions, so a decline in health and social outcomes would
not necessarily follow legalisation.
For example, the former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner, Mr Mick
Palmer AO, stated:
that, if it was legalised, we wouldn't see user levels move much at all and it
would create more incentive for people not to experiment beyond that...There'll
always be some people who will do it. Most of those people, in my experience,
are the white-collar type who don't expect to get caught if they're not doing
it out in public. They're doing it with friends in covert locations and so on,
including their work locations. And of course they don't normally come to the
attention of police even though most police, as I was in my operational days,
are aware of who's doing it and what jobs they hold down, including very
responsible ones. But they don't come to notice in a way that allows an
apprehension to be made even if we wanted to.
and Drug Foundation did not support the bill, but nonetheless contended there
was a need for drug law reform, especially as current penalties, in its view,
are not proportionate:
charged with low-level cannabis offences of possession and/or use of cannabis,
face consequences that are not proportionate to the offence: these include
impeding access to certain occupations and travel to certain countries. An
advantage of removing criminal sanctions for low-level cannabis offences would
be the avoidance of a criminal record, reduced stigma leading to better access
to treatment, and the relieving of a burden on the law enforcement and judicial
systems. Advocates for drug law reform usually propose either the
decriminalisation or the legalisation of cannabis.
quality of cannabis products for medicinal users
A number of
submitters spoke very favourably about the benefits of cannabis for managing
medical conditions, including for chronic pain, cancer, and other conditions.
However, in support of the bill, some of these submitters told the committee
that it was difficult for individuals to access medicinal cannabis legally,
which meant that many of them turned to the unregulated illicit market to
whose name was withheld told the committee that he and his wife successfully
used cannabis to manage their conditions, and observed:
[Special Access Scheme] is a complete and utter joke and I can't stress enough
how useless and uncompassionate the system is. With now only 1000 people
getting access to medicinal cannabis since the scheme started, with estimated
hundreds of thousands of Australians trying to get on the scheme is outrageous
and should be overturned immediately. It causes the black market to flourish
and would be even cheaper still then to get a legal prescription. If [you're]
desperate, like us, it's a no brainer. The TGA does more harm [than] good on
confirmed by Professor Webster AO, who suggested that current health services
supporting chronic pain conditions were 'inadequate', and so many turned to
non-medicinal cannabis to manage chronic conditions.
received by the committee argued that the lifting of Commonwealth prohibitions
on cannabis could benefit the Commonwealth Budget, by increasing returns from
taxation, driving new areas for employment, and reducing the costs of law
For example, 360Edge stated that:
analysis of the impact of cannabis legalisation calculate the net social
benefit of legalisation at A$727.5 million per year. This is significantly higher than
the status quo at around A$295 million (for example from fines generating
revenue, as well as perceived benefits of criminalisation deterring use).
Parliamentary Budget Office estimates tax revenue from cannabis legalisation at
around A$259 million.
submitters argued that the policing of cannabis as a prohibited substance was a
substantial drain on Commonwealth resources, considering the costs of the
detection, investigation and prosecution of cases, as well as the costs of
incarceration or other punishment. For example, Mr Palmer argued that the wide
usage of cannabis showed that prohibition had not worked, and that its use for
personal consumption should be approached as a 'social and health issue' rather
than as a criminal behaviour. He noted a range of positive economic and law
current illicit drug policy, was amended to remove the need for police to waste
time and resources on the investigation and apprehension of people for personal
use and possession of cannabis, the increased capacity for police to focus more
strongly on commercial drug cultivation, production and trafficking, would free
up significant money and police resources (as identified in the Bill),
immeasurably improve relationships between police and the drug using community,
and almost certainly result in higher levels of police success against
organised drug trafficking.
suggested there had been positive effects for the health of Colorado's budget following
its legalisation of cannabis:
experience in Colorado is that something like $100m of tax revenue is being
raised per year and 18,000 jobs have been created from the regulated industry.
They are using the revenue to build schools, hospitals and other infrastructure
projects. The sky hasn't fallen in and their economy is thriving. Also, the
marijuana black market is [dissolving] as the price of the product comes down.
The Colorado approach seems to be a great success story when compared with the
failure of cannabis prohibition.
Opposition to the bill
also received evidence that strongly opposed the bill for a number of reasons, on
the basis that it would:
for users, including through already-established health risks of cannabis use
and an increased availability and use of poorer quality cannabis;
health and safety risks for the families and children of users, and poor
outcomes for communities more generally;
compromise Australia's medicinal cannabis industry, including removing
Commonwealth oversight of quality, availability and market regulation, which
would also affect medicinal cannabis users; and
Australia's international treaty obligations, compromising our capacity to
export medicinal cannabis and undermining the local industry producing and
processing poppies to make medicinal opiates for global markets.
A number of
other issues were also raised in evidence, including: civil liberties, freedom
of choice for Australians and community expectations on cannabis use; that the
bill may not lead to a reduction of law enforcement costs; potential difficulties
for jurisdictions in implementing the provisions of the bill; the perception
the bill is based on flawed economic modelling; and, broadly put, that the bill
A number of
submissions argued that cannabis use had serious health effects, not only for
users themselves, but on their families and society more generally.
In this regard, there was a widespread disagreement with the premise of the
bill that cannabis use 'is less harmful that alcohol use and tobacco use'.
of Health (department) set out the current Commonwealth position on the health
harms of cannabis in its submission, emphasising the burden that cannabis use
has on the healthcare system:
many Australians may view cannabis use as harmless, almost a quarter of
Australia's drug and alcohol treatment services are being provided to people
identifying cannabis as their principal drug of concern (roughly the same
number of treatment episodes as for amphetamine use). Cannabis use has been
demonstrated to have significant negative health outcomes, including problems
with memory and learning, addiction, decreased motivation, and concentration,
anxiety, increased risk of respiratory diseases, paranoia and in some cases
submitted that, while there were benefits for some patients using medicinal cannabis,
its recreational consumption had poor outcomes in several ways:
also important to recognise the negative health aspects of cannabis when used
recreationally, including the risk of mental health problems and cannabis use
disorder. Legalising the recreational use of cannabis can also have a
significant negative impact on public safety issues, especially driver
impairment and work health and safety problems [which] have to be carefully
considered against the potential benefits that regulating the sale of cannabis
might bring. On balance, the RACGP cautions against the legalisation of
recreational cannabis as this will most likely encourage use of a drug that
will result in increased demands on the Australian Healthcare system.
submitters and witnesses
argued that drug use inevitably harmed not only the substance user, but also
others around them. For example, Drug Free Australia stated:
notion that illicit drug use is a victimless crime and that everyone should be
free to do what they want with their body disregards the web of social
interactions that constitute human existence. Affected by an individual's
illicit drug use are children, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues,
work, victims of drugged drivers, crime victims, elder abuse, sexual victims,
patients made sicker my medical marijuana etc. Illicit drug use is no less
victimless than alcoholism.
that there were particular risks for vulnerable cohorts. For example, Dr
Elisabeth Taylor, Director of Research for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL),
highlighted greater health and safety risks for children and adolescents:
consequences of parental cannabis use for young children are also significant.
Drug and alcohol use are known to be major factors associated with family
violence, physical abuse, neglect of children and children being taken into
care, and these consequences may be both severe and lifelong.
are another particularly vulnerable group. Adolescence is an important period
of neurodevelopment where educational achievement is essential and long-term
life outcomes are affected. Smoking cannabis has been shown to negatively
affect attention, memory and learning. Reduced intellectual function can last
for days or even weeks after the acute effects of the drug have worn off.
Somebody who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced
intellectual level all or most of the time. This then manifests in measurably
lower educational outcomes for students who smoke cannabis compared to their non-smoking
A number of
submitters drew the committee's attention to the serious effects of even
moderate cannabis use on unborn children.
Professor Dr Albert Reece submitted that evidence from Colorado indicated a significant
rise in anomalies in newborns following legalisation in 2014, which he argued
would rise in the future:
emerging from our still on-going analysis of the rates of deformed babies in
Colorado show that most of the cannabis related anomalies are rising, which
includes all of the fastest growing anomalies, and that the overall rate of
congenital heart defects and total defects has almost doubled [over the period]
2000-2013; Cannabis was only fully legalized in Colorado in 2014!!! That is the
good news–for it has also been shown that cannabis interferes with the basic
processes of brain formation also. The babies born to drug dependent parents
are very obviously very far from normal in most cases – certainly when the
addictions are severe–when indeed children are lucky to survive even until
birth! So cannabis is a known teratogen and its widespread use is likely to
cost the community very dearly in the years to come.
Australian Police Force provided data to the committee that indicated that
following cannabis legalisation in Colorado, youth use of cannabis had
increased around 20 per cent, cannabis-related traffic deaths had increased by
48 per cent, and cannabis-related emergency department rates increased by 49
Australia's medicinal cannabis and opiate industry
department set out a number of ways that the bill would not only negatively affect
Australia's domestic medicinal cannabis regime, but also compromise our
international treaty commitments and our medicinal opiate industry.
noted that the removal of cannabis from the Narcotic Drugs Act would
drastically alter the Commonwealth's oversight of our medicinal cannabis
production, manufacture and distribution:
effect would be to, first, leave the matter of cannabis regulation and control
almost entirely to the states and territories. Enactment would not...legalise
cannabis for recreational use, but may lead to the states and territories
considering such a move separately. Individual jurisdictions may also take
different approaches to authorising cannabis and cannabis-derived products for
medical and scientific use.
department commented that the Australian community expects there to be a 'licit
source of cannabis for medicinal use', and that the bill could:
mean there are no levels of control on the availability of cannabis. For
example, medicines have advertising, labelling and packaging requirements
designed to improve consumer safety and manage medical dosages.
removing cannabis from the Poisons Standard cannabis would become unscheduled.
While untested in law, it could become a listed complementary medicine.
However, listed complementary medicines can only contain certain low risk
ingredients (some cannabis therapeutically active substances would not fall
into this category) and can only make claims such as health maintenance and
health enhancement or for non-serious, self-limiting conditions. As a result,
medicines containing cannabis would not be able to be marketed for palliative
care, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, chronic pain, multiple
sclerosis and epilepsy.
department also submitted that the bill would allow anyone to produce cannabis
legally, which would remove Commonwealth oversight of the supply chain for
Act scheme of carefully considered controls on the supply chain would be
non-existent. The ND Act presently limits the grant of a licence to manufacture
medicinal cannabis products to an applicant who is able to demonstrate a
legitimate supply route; cultivators may only obtain a licence by demonstrating
the ability to supply to a licensed manufacturer. The purpose of the scheme's
design to remove the possibility of oversupply or excess production and
the risk of diversion, would, should the Bill be passed, be
destroyed–presenting the attenuated risk.
for users of medicinal cannabis
Australia noted that the Commonwealth oversees a regulatory framework for
medical cannabis, including conducting research and informing consumers and
practitioners. It argued that the bill's provisions could lead to unintended
negative consequences for individuals using cannabis to manage chronic
removal of the
Commonwealth from the
of these products would leave a chasm in providing a strategic framework to understand what role they can play in pain management....
While PainAustralia supports current efforts to enable quicker
access to medicinal
cannabis where it has been prescribed, we are concerned the removal of the Commonwealth from the
regulation of medicinal cannabis could have a range of unintended consequences. At
worst, this could see millions of Australians living
with chronic pain offered 'false hope' of a
treatment option that does not work and that diverts
them from seeking and accessing best practice
pain management that offers their best chance for a good quality of life and return
department also noted that loosening the restrictions of the Narcotic Drugs Act
could negatively affect the safety and quality of cannabis grown in Australia,
its interaction with therapeutic goods regulation, the application of the
Therapeutic Goods Order 93 (Standard for Medicinal Cannabis) controls the level
of heavy metals, fungal infections and other contaminants permitted in
medicinal cannabis in Australia. The removal of that standard may lead to
adverse health effects, or would require state and territories to regulate for
safety and quality.
international obligations, the department submitted that the bill could
compromise our growing industry producing medicinal opiates, which is dependent
on Australia's adherence to the
Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 (Single Convention).
Under this convention, Australia must report annually on its compliance with
its obligations to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
The department stated that assertions made by the Explanatory Memorandum were
erroneous and the bill's provisions would have negative effects:
cultivation and production of cannabis and manufacture of cannabis products for
medicinal and scientific purposes would not be compliant with its international
treaty obligations as provided for by the Single Convention....
Commonwealth regulation consistent with Australia's international obligations,
states and territories providing for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal
purposes will affect Australia's ability to present itself as compliant with
the Single Convention. In turn, this could have adverse reputational
implications for Australia's licit poppy industry with medium term risks to
Australia's approved status as a major supplier of poppy straw in a timely
liberties and community views on cannabis
submitters criticised the idea that cannabis use was a matter of civil
liberties, and questioned whether a large number of Australians supported
On civil liberties, Drug Free Australia submitted:
that one should always have the freedom to do whatever one wants without regard
to the common good is belied by the plethora of social agreements which make a
society cohesive. Notably, democracy limits the freedom of individuals,
particularly the freedom of individuals who are not in accord with the majority
beliefs as to what promotes the common good.
argument that illicit drug use is an unalienable human right rests on a faulty
assumption of individual freedom that fails to balance freedom with responsibility
to others in the community.
evidence suggested that supporters of cannabis legalisation had greatly over-exaggerated
community support. For example, citing the statistics of the 2016 National Drug
Strategy Survey, Drug Free Australia argued that:
legalisation of drugs producing more drug use, Australian legislators need to
legislate for the majority of Australians, not the minority 10% who use
costs of law enforcement
indicated that jurisdictions that have legalised cannabis still have to deal
with established criminal networks that cultivate cannabis for illegal sale.
For example, the Western Australia Police Force submitted that:
crime networks are heavily involved in cannabis cultivation and
distribution. Counterparts at the United States
of America (US) Drug Enforcement Agency have advised
in places where cannabis has been legalised it has enabled organised crime
networks to either legitimise their cannabis business and/or continue to
sell/traffic cannabis on the unregulated black market where it remains cheaper
and avoids being subject to tax.
indicated that the bill would lead to complex cross-jurisdictional matters for
Australian law enforcement bodies, as well as legal and health service
providers. For example, The Department of Home Affairs submitted that, if the
bill were enacted before state and territory laws had been amended, then it:
effectively allow an individual to legally import cannabis but this individual
could then be guilty of an offence of possessing cannabis under a state or territory
law. This outcome would frustrate state and territory law enforcement’s ability
to reduce supply within their own jurisdictions, creating a legal highway by
which drugs can be imported into state and territory jurisdictions even where
these drugs are prohibited.
disconnect between Commonwealth, state and territory law would lead to a
greater financial impost on state and territory law enforcement, as confusion
arising from inconsistencies between Commonwealth, state and territory
legislation will be exploited by organised criminal entities seeking to sell
cannabis products in the Australian market.
Doctors Association of Australia suggested that the bill:
conceivably result in legalisation in some States and territories and
maintenance of illegality in others. This could give rise to cross-border
issues in relation to the provision of legal and health services among others.
Simon Lenton, Director
of the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), questioned whether states and
territories had sufficient resources and expertise to effectively implement
import and customs controls for cannabis and cannabis-based products.
modelling and assumptions underpinning the bill
witnesses questioned the assumptions of the modelling used to support the bill.
For example, the AMA noted that:
costings associated with the proposal are of low reliability and take a very
simplistic view of the situation. Budget cuts have been proposed for several
authorities, while no discernible investment in treatment has been included.
Investment in drug and alcohol treatment services is vital.
noted some other flaws in the economic analysis of the bill's potential benefits:
proposal only considers revenue to the Commonwealth from GST and other sources
of revenue. Neither public health costs nor the anticipated costs of proper
regulation of a legal cannabis market are included and these are likely to be
substantial, even if they are largely borne by the states.
assumes cannabis use will increase. This is based on an assumption that all
states and territories legalise and seems to assume a fully commercial model.
It is not clear that a fully commercialised model is the ideal from a public
health point of view...
Institute noted that the overseas example had shown that any financial benefits
of legalisation were outweighed by other social and healthcare costs:
health care costs, loss of productivity, insurance and WorkCover claim
increases, mental health issues and the long term (often permanent) damage from
drug use more than negate any promised financial rewards.
alleged reduction in law enforcement and justice expenditure have not been
realised overseas, with crime increasing (even though the crime of possession
is statistically negligible) and the costs of added regulation for
non-compliance add to rather than decrease the state deficit. Furthermore,
there are shortfalls in the budget estimates that do not cover the additional
health and education on cannabis harms and the fact that the illegal drug trade
will inevitably continue to thrive under more regulation and taxation.
premature nature of the bill
submitters argued that the bill was premature, even if a wider debate on
cannabis legislation reform was timely. For example, the AMA submitted that the
premature and fails to recognise that efforts to decriminalise cannabis may be
detrimental to some groups within the population. More nuanced deliberations
must occur in relation to the benefits of ending criminal penalties associated
with personal cannabis use, as well as the need to better protect the groups of
people who are vulnerable to the deleterious effects of cannabis. The AMA also
has significant concerns about the lack of capacity within the drug and alcohol
treatment sector in Australia. Many individuals have difficulty in accessing
the treatment and support they require at the right time.
and Drug Foundation agreed that the bill was 'premature' and that:
decision to consider changing the legal status of cannabis deserves to be
undertaken in the context of a critical and comprehensive review of all
relevant matters and careful consideration of all options. Questions of
drug policy are complex matters that involve scientific evidence, medical
expertise, fears and volatile emotions and should not be decided in haste. The
ADF believes a period of extensive community discussion is required that would
allow the public and experts from various relevant disciplines to voice their
views and debate the issues prior to a decision by policy makers.
of the NDRI, also made it clear that, while he opposed the bill, he welcomed a
wider debate about cannabis use:
recommending that, in its current form, the bill should not be passed, although
I am very supportive of a discussion and an investigation into a
non-prohibition model for cannabis in Australia and in the states and
Similarly, the Northern Territory Government
submitted that more research into best practice and management of 'harmful or
other effects of cannabis' is needed before laws relating to cannabis are
understands that there are passionate advocates on both sides of the debate on
Australia's approach to cannabis, with some advocating for full legalisation of
cannabis use, while others are calling for tighter prohibition and more
stringent law enforcement.
diversity of opinion, it is clear to the committee that the removal of all
Commonwealth prohibitions on cannabis, as proposed by the bill, would have
serious consequences in several areas.
clearly presents serious physical and mental health risks to casual users.
Although this committee recognises the importance and value of Australia's medicinal
cannabis regime, the risks to the health of casual and regular recreational users
cannot be easily ignored when considering a legislative change to make cannabis
a more widely available legal substance. The committee is particularly
concerned about any increased availability of cannabis to young and vulnerable
evidence showed that the use of cannabis can present direct health risks not
only to users, but also those around them. This includes recognised health
dangers to cannabis users' families and children, as well as risks for the broader
community, most seriously from drug driving and work health and safety issues.
of all Commonwealth prohibitions on cannabis would also compromise our
recently-established system that provides medicinal cannabis to Australians
suffering from chronic conditions. While the committee acknowledges that this
system could be improved, as is clear from evidence, it is also clear that
removing Commonwealth oversight of the medicinal system, while legalising all
forms of cannabis, is not the answer.
In regards to
Commonwealth oversight and control of both medicinal and illicit cannabis, the
committee considers that the harm minimisation approach to cannabis as
contained in the National Drug Strategy currently strikes a good balance and so
should be maintained.
matters, the committee received evidence that indicated that the bill would seriously
compromise our international obligations, damaging not only our fledgling
domestic medicinal cannabis regime, but also our local industry producing
medicinal opiates for export.
of all Commonwealth prohibitions could also lead to complex issues of law
enforcement and control of cannabis for Australia, not only between
jurisdictions, but also regarding import and export of cannabis and cannabis
products. It is also not clear from international experience that legalising
cannabis would, in fact, reduce the influence or profitability of criminal
networks, or stop the black market sale of cannabis, including to young and
apparent to the committee that the modelling underpinning the proposed benefits
of the bill is uncertain at best. In providing estimates of the bill's effects,
the PBO itself noted that there was uncertainty about the costs and consumption
of cannabis following legalisation, as well as the costs of law enforcement.
Additionally, evidence indicated that PBO models had not incorporated a
consideration of rising healthcare costs coming from increased consumption.
conclusion, the committee agrees with many of the submitters that argued this
bill is flawed and premature, and considers that the known risks of illegal
cannabis use greatly outweighs the potential benefits of legalisation as
contained in the bill.
recommends that the Senate not pass the bill.
the Hon Ian Macdonald
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