As former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman observed early last year, we have lost the war on drugs. So it would appear sensible to consider different approaches, including different degrees of decriminalisation or legalisation. Regrettably, the Queensland Government has rejected a recommendation by the Queensland Productivity Commission for the decriminalisation of drugs, as Steven Wardill reports in today’s Courier-Mail:
Treasurer Jackie Trad last night confirmed the Government had rejected a controversial Queensland Productivity Commission recommendation to decriminalise drugs but would consider the use of more diversionary methods for small-time users.
The diversionary methods by which small-time users could avoid jail time are welcome, but it would have been better to have gone much further, in my view. Economists across the world have long been critical of the high costs and low level of apparent benefits associated with the war on drugs. My good friend and colleague Stephen Thornton of BG Economics and I had a good conversation on this issue in my Economics Explained episode on cannabis, which I recommend you listen to if you haven’t yet.
Incidentally, I have been drafted into the “No” team alongside the Courier-Mail’s Steven Wardill for the Seventh State debate, on whether there should be a separate state of North Queensland, to be held in Brisbane on 20 March 2020.
Another upcoming event I’m appearing at is APP’s Queensland Hot or Not forum on Tuesday 18 February. By that time, we should have a better idea of the likely economic impact of the coronavirus, which could give our very important tourism and international education sectors a big hit.