Decriminalising All Drugs

Would Decriminalising All Drugs Boost Australia’s Economy?

When it hit, it hit all at once.

The 60s exploded onto the scene in a haze of smoke and euphoria. It was a decade hallmarked by LSD, shimmery sitars, flower crowns and melting pink and orange swirls.

The clouds in the sky looked like diamonds, figures of authority were reduced to comical, bumbling caricatures, and free love was the new name of the game. It was during this time too, that musicians became gods on Earth.

But aside from all of the psychedelic hallucinations, there was also a drastic countercultural shift bubbling underneath the surface. Everyone agreed that it was time to shock ourselves out of the suffocating rigidity of the 50s. And it was through these altered states of consciousness that we would dream up a new world order.

As American psychologist and LSD advocate, Timothy Leary proposed at the time:

To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.’

He also famously noted that:

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

Indeed, when these drugs were unleashed into the world en masse, the societal shift followed rapidly. Everyone was rolling around in pure ecstasy, dizzy with pleasure and freedom.

That is, before they rolled right into the gutter.

By the time the 80s came around, things weren’t so rosy. And many underprepared nations were bursting at the seams with cases of overdose and disease.

In Portugal, for example, one in 10 people had fallen to heroin addiction and the nation was in a state of panic.

People from all walks of life had succumbed to unbridled addiction and crime. Students, plumbers, bankers and fishermen were not above injecting on the street to get their hit of joyous stupor.

At the time, Portugal also had the highest rate of HIV infection in the entire European Union.

Much of the chaos was due to the authoritarian regime the country had been living under for 40 years. One that required a license to own a cigarette lighter and had banned the sale of Coca-Cola.

So by the time the drugs flooded in, the Portuguese people were completely unprepared. The government’s initial scare campaign which involved advertisements touting that ‘Drugs are Satan’ clearly wasn’t working.

The situation became so dire, that in 2001, the government made a decision that was both unorthodox and globally unprecedented.

Decriminalising all drugs.

At first glance, it sounds like a terribly haphazard idea. But behind the decision was the notion that to treat drug addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one would bring drug addiction out of the shadows, and prevent some of the horrific deaths occurring day after day.

So instead of being prosecuted, the law reform required those caught with personal possession to appear before a commission (including a doctor and a social worker) where they were educated about how to overcome their addiction.

Overwhelmingly, the results of this shift were positive.

The cases of hepatitis and HIV drastically plummeted, along with drug-related deaths and crime. People were no longer dehumanised and criminalised for falling to addiction, and the country’s archaic attitudes were left in the dust.

But despite how effective Portugal’s ‘educate rather than incarcerate’ policy was, many other nations seem reluctant to follow suit — preferring to remain stubbornly loyal to conservative policies that do more harm than good.

Including our own.

Australia limping behind the times

Australia is lagging far behind other developed nations when it comes to cannabis legislation. The government still remains steadfastly opposed to legalising recreational use, even as we watch our allies New Zealand and Canada enjoy the economic and social benefits that come with a lack of political interference.

To their credit, our government did legalise medicinal marijuana use in March last year. However since the legislation was changed, only 3,100 medical scripts have been approved. And according to the ABC, it’s estimated that over 100,000 Australians still self-medicate with cannabis acquired from illegal sources.

This is likely due to the difficulty Australians often experience when trying to obtain a script. And although it’s been proven that cannabis can aid significantly in the treatment of chronic pain, anorexia, nausea and epilepsy, medical practitioners still have their hands tied when it comes to proscribing it.

As medical cannabis campaigner Lucy Haslam argues:

Unless there’s changes at a legislative level around access then it doesn’t matter if you have a local supplier, that’ll just be exported to other parts of the world and Australian patients will continue to not receive it.

With such high demand for medicinal marijuana, and in this kind of political environment, the Aussie companies cultivating the plant are reaping the benefits. Australians are scrambling to get their hands on the products, and as the overseas market is booming, exporting cannabis is big business.

As Australian politicians (hopefully) become more accepting of cannabis as a legitimate medicinal and recreational substance, the opportunities for businesses will only expand. Our economy will no doubt reap the benefits too, as the legal marijuana market is estimated to be worth $146.4 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Now, we may not enact such progressive and forward-thinking laws as Portugal has done for some time to come. But as an investor, it’s always best to get in before the boom takes off. So if you’d like to read our pot expert, Sam Volkering’s latest research report on the hidden Aussie company set to soar of the global marijuana boom, click here.

This week in Money Morning

Apple used to be the gold standard not only for phones, but for their rapid innovation. But since Steve Jobs’ death, they seem to have run out of ideas fast. And as Harje wrote on Monday, they may be left in the dust by Samsung’s new folding phone set to be released in the next few months…

To read the full story, click here.

Don’t you think it’s funny that the history of mankind is defined by the most important materials of the age? We’ve seen the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. After all, each new material has brought with it huge changes to the world — new tools, new infrastructure and new ways of living. And as Ryan wrote on Tuesday, we may be on the verge of a new age…

To learn more, click here.

Then on Wednesday, Harje noted that Uber is going public. It’s safe to assume that the initial public offering will be overhyped. Oversold. Everyone will want to get their hands on the business that has captivated their kids. But Harje believes that this is an investment you should steer clear of…

To read the full story, click here.

Individually, debt is a scary thing. Especially since most of us in debt are paying interest on top of interest. For the government though, debt seems pretty OK, considering how much they have of it. But as Harje wrote on Thursday, a disaster could be looming.

To read more, click here.

Is Trump going to reverse his ban on Huawei and leave Australia out in the cold? He’s done a far bit of flip-flopping before, and it looks as if he might do it again in the name of the free market. But as Harje argued on Friday, this time looks different. And Aussie telcos will need to step up in Huawei’s wake.

To read the full story, click here.

Until next week,

Katie Johnson,
Editor, Money Weekend

The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune is an unorthodox news service. Your Australian Tribune editorial team deliver the unfiltered stories that could impact your daily life — political and economic stories you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. And we’re not afraid to step on some toes to do it. We are honest, conservative and never dull. We are an independent service, meaning we don’t answer to shareholders or outside advertisers. This helps avoid conflicts of interest that inhibit mainstream sources, which keeps our voice independent. The Australian Tribune is owned and operated by Port Phillip Publishing.
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  1. “hey, it’s working in this country” arguments are BS, because if you actually dig into it, which most people don’t, the actual experience is very different to that superficially betrayed. Socialists do this all the time with Sweden.