Last Friday, the US House of Representatives passed a law decriminalising cannabis at the federal level. Unfortunately, as noted in this CNN report, the law has very little chance of being upheld by the US Senate, but it was good to see lower house support for decriminalisation. Surely, it is only a matter of time now before widespread decriminalisation of cannabis and other drugs in western nations, as it’s pretty apparent the war on drugs has failed and community attitudes have changed massively in the last few decades.
Moreover, there would likely be large economic and social benefits from decriminalisation of cannabis and allowing for its recreational use in Australia. The Queensland Productivity Commission recommended decriminalisation of drugs earlier this year, but alas the Government rejected its recommendation. This was despite the potential savings of hundreds of millions of dollars per annum in justice system costs and billions in future capital spending for new prisons, as noted by the ABC’s Matt Wordsworth in in January: Drug decriminalisation would ‘save hundreds of millions’, but Queensland Premier rules it out. With the state government now at the beginning of a four-year term, it should consider reforming our out-of-date and costly drug laws.
For previous coverage of the issue on this blog, check out: