Should Cannabis be legalised in Australia Essay Example
Cannabis Sativa which has green leaves grows almost in any climate. Though labeled with many bad effects, it still offers a lot of valuable uses. An example is woody stalks which are known as hemp, they have over time been used as fibers to make ropes and canvas. However the problems which leads to its prohibition relates to its flowering buds and the leaves. Both secrete THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) which is a yellow secretion and a major ingredient. Cannabis has had a rich history, in England for example, reports show that Queen Victoria used the substance to relieve her menstrual cramps (Single 2009).
In Australia the use and consumption of cannabis is prohibited, however it remains the most widely consumed illicit drug. Reports show that about a majority of the young people aged between 20-29 years old are heavy users of the drug. Despite its prohibition and the fact that it is not risk free, the youth still seems not to care about this. As a result of the widespread use of cannabis for personal use there have been heated debates on its decriminalization in instances where the users are using it for personal use. A survey carried out on the general public show that 70 % of Australian public would prefer expunging of the penal sanction as regards minor offenders (Rozzoli 2002).
As a result of ratification of the 1961 Single Convection on Narcotic Drugs, Australia as well as many other countries around the globe continues to prohibit the cultivation, possession and use of the cannabis. The persistent probation which still hold true till today, has been associated with the health dangers it is attributed to cause to the general public. Laws have put both penal sanctions as well as penalties for anyone who would cultivate or in any way possess the alleged cannabis. Cannabis is commonly referred to as ‘Marijuana’ or ‘pot’. The criminal sanctions seem to produce minimal results as reports show an increased use of the psychotropic substances in Australia especially by the young people (Walters 2004).
Three states have shown a great move to leniency in the way they handle the personal users of cannabis. In Australian Central Territory, South Australia as well as Northern Territory currently the users are subjected to fines rather than imprisonment. This perspective can be justified in the view that the court has often shown a great sense of insensitivity to the users. A case to illustrate this is in the 2001 local Arizona press news. The newspaper carried out the story of a lady named Deborah Lynn Quinn, who was 39 years old. She had been born with physical disability since she didn’t have arms and legs. The court sentenced her to one and a half year imprisonment for illegally using marijuana. From the case it was clear she was taking the drug to relieve her physical plight which the judge ought to have considered and be lenient in his judgement. An intensive probation would have been the best alternative rather than an imprisonment.
This is essentially drawn from the research work of John Stuart Mills who had the idea of people enjoying their freedom without interruption by state or any other individual. As far as libertarians are concerned the users of cannabis should be allowed to use the substance so long as it is not affecting any other person in the society. They hold the view that prohibition is discriminatory and cultivation, possession and use of drugs by the adults should no longer be in force.
Despite the desire of the proponents for reform in the cannabis use, this has not been successful. Australian people do not entirely support the view that there should be a cannabis market. Contrary to this the reports and survey show that people would prefer the government to have regulation of the use of cannabis. The critics argue that it would be very hard for the government to determine who is using cannabis for recreational purposes and who is not. This is the view that is held by most countries including America. A leeway in allowing the recreational use would eliminate the state control on how the market is conducted (Bowman et al, 2000).
Social Costs Argument.
Considerable amount of state resources are channeled in the efforts of curbing the use, possession and cultivation of use of marijuana by Australian government. Because most of the states are governed by a total ban of cannabis policy, the enforcement was pegged at $329 million in the year 1992. This was estimated to be 73% of the enforcement of the illegal drugs. Taking this into consideration the sums show that the government spends a lot of money in enforcing the use and cultivation of the cannabis. The survey showed that 83% of those who were apprehended by the law enforcers were minor users. From this figure scholars have proposed that the state governments should move swiftly and decriminalize use of marijuana for personal use. The amount of resources that is directed towards the enforcement has been observed to be unjustified. The black market is estimated to be of value of more than $1.9 billion. The treads however has shown that for the states that have severed penal sanctions like South Australia, no savings have been banked as a result of coming up with civil remedies only.
The black market of cannabis has also been seen as a hub and a fertile ground of cultivating police corruption. The corruption has penetrated thicker even to the level of record keeping, since most police records do not have clear picture of the number of cannabis user offenders. Such erosion of moral values has been seen to be more costly to the societal than the effects of completely doing away with the penal sanctions. The reports and figures of the cannabis users remain clandestine in nature. It is estimated that the social costs caused by cannabis consumption would be more that it meets the eye (Walters 2003).
This is another attributable factor to the ever increasing numbers of the cannabis uses. The information that is accessible to the public has often presented conflicting data. The press often present cannabis as less harmful than alcohol, because of such perspective many people show that it should be decriminalized since alcohol is legal. The effects to the health are also presented as less dire that the effects of other drugs. The public are evidently torn on which view to support and believe. Some press even report that cannabis is a non dangerous drug and definitely safer than aspirin. This encourages the proponents to move their view in the public (Single 2009).
Further to add salt to injury the health effects of marijuana have not been consistent. This has been a very big obstacle to health educators. Health educators are caught up in a dilemma as to what kind of advice should be disseminated to the members of the general public.
ADVANTAGES OF LEGALIZATION
- Marijuana use promotes the rights and personal freedom of the users.
- This would translate to minimal social costs as regards state enforcement.
- Cancer patients get medical benefits from its use.
- If well regulated it can be a source of additional tax revenues by the government.
- Legalization would promote raise in quality assessments.
- It could be useful in industrial and commercial manufacture of products, especially of medicinal value (Donolley and Hall 2004).
Disadvantages of Legalization
- There is a strong connection between marijuana use and criminal activities.
- It is considered as an avenue to trade other illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin.
- It is associated with juvenile delinquency, unemployment and thus translating to slow economic growth.
- It would lead to additional use of the substance by the general public, the long term effect of the health costs would soon overweigh the revenue generated by the public.
- The access to the young people which would lead to their dreams and career crumbling.
Over the past the opponents of marijuana have argued that its use is not as harmful to the users as consumption and smoking of tobacco. This in a way seems to justify that this two have no harmful effects to the society. The truth is that alcohol has continued to be a cause of many harmful effects to the users. In essence the fact that alcohol is not illegal does not mean it has no effects. Most problems directly linked with tobacco and alcohol includes liver cirrhosis, cancer, impotency and many social problems (Walters 2004).
Legalization and Decriminalization
Though there is no need to establish that for a drug to be criminalized it should have harmful health effects, marijuana seems to use this criteria. The opponents of its decriminalization argue that because it has health effects it should continue to be criminalized in Australia. If it did not have any health consequence, the government would essentially find it hard in making its use and possession a criminal offence (Single 2009).
Proponents argue that just like alcohol legalization of cannabis could come up with other strategies just like alcohol. Prohibition is seen as not the only way in dealing with an illegal drug that continues to attract thongs of users each year. The strategies proposed include licensing the specific shops and individuals that deal with cannabis. It is also proposed that the licensed shops should have an age limit to control the young people from accessing the cannabis as it is done to the users of alcohol. Health education and hiked price are also seen as control factors of the cannabis. Its use has been rippling far and wide, in 1998 during the Christmas holiday, Prince Charles of England while on a visit at British charity Hospital advised the patient to use cannabis to relieve the pain he was undergoing. The patient was suffering from multiple sclerosis. This was of course contrary to the UK law. It all goes to show that the government should review the law that relates to use, possession and cultivation of cannabis.
I strongly believe that the debates as to decriminalization should be shunned away. Cannabis Sativa should continue to be illegal in Australia. Decriminalization for personal use or for any other use would lead to an increase in criminal activities. There is a close association between cannabis use and criminal activities and moral decay. Further the decriminalization would eliminate and erode away the effects of penal laws which have a deterrence effect. The rate of problems would proportionally increase due to use of cannabis, my speculation is that rape and accidents would also be on the rise.
Though legalization would highly influence the elimination of cannabis black market, the societal threads and customs would still remain the same. This would mean that the members who have over time been at the helm of the illegal business will be given a platform through which they can now take control of their undertaking. Corruption would not definitely die or be wiped out upon legalization. Moreover the excessive availability of cannabis will be proportional to the number of young people who use cannabis.
Legalizing cannabis will be an irreversible decision. Just as it has happened to the alcohol and tobacco business, legalization would be irreversible even if at some point the use is found to be harmful to the society. The health costs effects will definitely be more than any social costs reduced and any revenue gained. With the arguments above, I strongly believe cannabis should not be legalized.
Bowman, J. & Sanson-Fisher, R. 2000, Public Perceptl’ons of Cannabis Legislation, National
DrugStrategy Monograph Number 28 (Canberra,Australian Government Publishing Service).
Donnelly, N. & Hall, W 2004, Patterns of Cannabis Use in Australia, National Drug Strategy
Monograph Series No. 27 (Canberra, AustralianGovernment Publishing Service).
Rozzoli, K 2002, The cannabis debate: a political perspective,
Drug and Alcohol Review, 13,
Single, E 2009, The impact of marijuana decriminalization: an update, Journal of Public
Health Policy, vol.10, pp.456-466
Walters, E 2003, Marijuana: an Australian crisis ,Malvern, Victoria, Elaine Waiters.
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