Last weeks election brought great shock to the young voters. It was a sad realisation that the older community could not come to terms with a non-hard-line approach on recreational drug use. But if we go back through history, we can see that NSW has commonly held this approach towards drugs, even on the safest of them all – Marijuana.
Marijuana comes from the plant Cannabis sativa and has a lot of terminologies such as pot, weed, and grass. The plant grows naturally all over the world and has provided an array of benefits for humans over thousands of years. Although Cannabis has been used both recreationally and medicinally since its discovery, it still remains illegal to possess, grow and use in New South Wales Australia and has remained so since hemp seeds were brought to Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet Williams. In the state of New South Wales, it is unlikely to receive a criminal conviction for possession of marijuana although offenders will be cautioned and assisted with treatment and education programs. While Cannabis has had over a century of prohibition, still over 35.4% of Australians aged over 14 years have used cannabis in their lifetime.
Making the drug the most commonly used illicit substance in Australia. Males are found to be more likely to use marijuana than females and research states that over a quarter of Australia’s youth have had past year use. In other states and territories such as Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and the Northern Territory, decriminalisation has already been enforced for small amounts of cannabis. Offenders still under go penalties which include small fines and attendance in counselling. Other nations around the world that have undergone this approach include Argentina, Cambodia, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Peru and North Korea. Correspondingly, Australia’s neighbour New Zealand could soon be on that list with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledging to hold a referendum on legalisation of recreational cannabis before the next national election in 2021. Whilst Australia did legalise medicinal use in 2016, reports demonstrate that the cannabis is too difficult to obtain, with high costs, low supply and uninformed doctors. Should New South Wales legalise marijuana for both medicinal and recreational a lot of these issues would disappear.
Unfortunately, this does not look likely to happen any time soon with Gladys Berejiklian introducing stop and frisk tents at Sydney train stations, rampant sniffer dog patrols at music festivals and the refusal to allow pill testing at these events. Her disconnection with not only the youth of the state but also global trends is a dark day in the liberty of New South Welsh citizens.