Australia to Crack Down on Marijuana?

By Lunar Loops · May 18, 2006 ·
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    Australia to Crack Down on Marijuana?

    According to an article in The Australian yesterday the Howard administration is pushing an initiative there that would standardize and strengthen marijuana laws throughout the country. Our ED, Ethan Nadelmann, emailed Dr. Alex Wodak, co-founder of the Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, to ask for his insight into this move. Here's what he had to say:
    Australia, like the US, has a Federal system with 6 states and 2 territories (only a fine legal distinction between states and territories). Since March 1996, the Federal government has been a conservative coalition and for the last few years, all 6 states and 2 territories have been unusually controlled by the conservative's political opponents.

    It is hard not to see this move by the Federal government to ahieve uniform marijuana laws as a wedge issue. If the Federal government achieves this, they will wrap themselves in the national flag and claim to have saved Australia's youth. If the Federal government doesn't achieve it, they can then blame their political opponents for being soft on drugs.

    In 2 recent state elections, the conservative opposition tried to make tougher cannabis laws an election issue. A rally called by the conservative opposition was attended by more journalists than citizens. In both elections, this issue got no traction and the conservative opposition was thrashed at the polls.

    Another problem for the conservatives is that a conservative government (in the Northern Territory) liberalised cannabis laws because they cost too much to enforce, benefits were hard to find, and the budget was in deficit. But I think we can rely on journalists being too lazy to find that out.

    Of course, as with all stories about drugs, it's the perception that really matters and the reality which is irrelevant. The reality of tough new cannabis laws would be an undetectably small difference in cannabis use; more arrests; more blue collar young people getting criminal records, losing jobs, busting relationships; more money spent on cannabis law enforcement and less on policing violent crime; and higher incomes for criminals and corrupt police.

    I can't help wondering what the people are smoking when they dream up these policies.

    It's interesting that the recent report from the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research Are We Losing the War on Drugs? An Analytic Assessment of U.S. Drug Policy by David Boyum and Peter Reuter 2005 was pretty damning about cannabis prohibition.

    It seems that the news has not filtered through to Australian conservatives that the line in Washington DC is changing.

    My own person hope is that the consertaves get their way and cannabis prohibition is intensified. As Abraham Lincoln said "the best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly."​

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