Should Queensland legalise recreational marijuana use?

My friend and fellow economist Dr Stephen Thornton of Bluegreen Economics has released a report advocating for the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use in Queensland. While the Queensland Parliament has recently passed a law allowing medicinal marijuana use, we could go further and allow its recreational use, as is done in Colorado and Massachusetts, for example. Stephen’s report is timely, following the news earlier this week that Canada is likely to legalise cannabis for recreational use, with some regulations on production and distribution, in the next few years (see this Globe and Mail article).

Stephen provided me the following summary of his report, which I found very interesting reading:

…the Queensland government is likely to receive tax and fee revenue of around $90 million/year in the medium term (three to five years) and achieve significant savings in terms of decreased police, court and prison costs, with new jobs created in a new legalised cannabis industry.

Cannabis consumers would no longer have to purchase from sometimes unscrupulous dealers operating in the black market, with the added benefits of no longer being fined and imprisoned with the associated police record and social stigma limiting their future job prospects. As well, consumers would also be confident of what they were purchasing as products would be tested and labelled for increased safety. They would also benefit as prices decreased over time in a competitive, market environment.

The community would also benefit, largely through a decrease in crime-related activities like break and enter and property theft crimes as the price of cannabis fell and people purchased product legally and more affordably. They would also benefit from government being able to spend more in other areas and/or being able to pay down government debt.

While there would likely be some additional costs to the state government and some consumers in terms of a small increase in mental and physical health issues associated with new consumers or existing consumers who increase their usage, these could be mitigated by a public education campaign.

bge_report_cannabis_cover

Is it time to legalise recreational cannabis use in Queensland?

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4 Responses to Should Queensland legalise recreational marijuana use?

  1. ngruen says:

    Without knowing a lot about it, I’m tentatively in favour of legalisation, but not complete ‘normalisation’. I’d like to see recreational marijuana remain somewhat ‘medicalised’ and for it not to be legal to advertise or otherwise aggressively market it.

    • Yes, the marketing and promotion of recreational cannabis would be a key point in any discussion in regard to legalising it in Queensland or any other state/territory. The Canadian Government’s Task Force in their report this month recommends the following (p.20):

      – Apply comprehensive restrictions to the advertising and promotion of cannabis and
      related merchandise by any means, including sponsorship, endorsements and branding,
      similar to the restrictions on promotion of tobacco products
      – Allow limited promotion in areas accessible by adults, similar to those restrictions under
      the Tobacco Act
      – Require plain packaging for cannabis products that allows the following information on
      packages: company name, strain name, price, amounts of THC and CBD and warnings and other labelling requirements
      – Impose strict sanctions on false or misleading promotion as well as promotion that encourages excessive consumption, where it is allowed
      – Require that any therapeutic claims made in advertising conform to applicable legislation
      – Resource and enable the detection and enforcement of advertising and marketing
      violations, including via traditional and social media

  2. Dave says:

    It is long past time to legalise and regulate it.
    Prohibition has been an unmitigated failure on every level. Plus Panadol is more dangerous so how about a measure of objectivity for a change.

    • ngruen says:

      Dave, what’s your evidence for saying that Panadol is more dangerous? What are your views on the evidence that marijuana is harmful to long run mental health?

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