Australia needs to legalise marijuana.

There are not enough adequate reasons why marijuana should remain an illegal substance in Australia. Marijuana should be available medicinally and recreationally. Its potential benefits greatly outweigh the dangers, which science can lessen the if given the funding and support to perform research.

This growing global approach to legalising marijuana recognises that marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world.The United Nations World Drug Report estimates that in 2013 there were 181.8 million users of cannabis worldwide. Australia has a user rate of 10.7% of the population putting the total at over 2.5 million. It must be noted that Australia would not be the first country to legalise nor the last and that there are profound economic and social benefits that come with legalisation.Nations all around the world including the United States of America, Canada and Uruguay are already profiting from the billion-dollar industry through taxation of marijuana products, with those addition funds then being spent on improving public services.

Legalisation will cut the cost of policing, courts and prisons. It would take money from the black market and inject it into the economy. Cannabis industries not only provide new jobs but also reduce drug related deaths and violence. The legalisation movement is growing, and at its current rate soon the majority of Australians will support making cannabis legal. It is therefore incumbent upon public policy experts and public health advocates to think critically about optimal policies for regulating cannabis.

Two major criticisms of the legalisation of marijuana are the effects that the substance has on underage users and the potential of increased marijuana-related traffic deaths. Marijuana can have a negative effect on the developing brain, as several studies have found, but a legalised system creates control where none exists now. Statistics out of the first US state to legalise, Colorado, shows an ongoing drop in teenage cannabis consumption suggesting that there is no link between underage use and legalisation. The growing affirmation is that regulation of marijuana is the most efficient and intelligent method to challenge underage consumption of cannabis.Legalisation also has the benefit of decriminalisation, and nations all around the world are beginning to treat drug abuse as a health problem rather than a criminal issue.

This change from a justice focus to a health focus has only shown positive signs in societies where these ideals have been endorsed.Portugal first took the step towards harm reduction in 2001 to combat their high rates of drug abuse and negative stigma surrounding the receival of treatment. The results have been staggering with overall drops in problematic drug use, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates for marijuana. This has had positive effects on Portugal’s culture, revitalising and transforming local communities. The official policy of decriminalisation for drugs has made it far easier for people to access services such as housing,employment, psychiatry and health.

Unfortunately, Australia looks set to remain in its ways for some time yet with only the Greens party supporting legalisation.

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