It’s been a few weeks now since the Greens announced their plans for a deregulated cannabis market in Australia based in the main on the Uruguayan government managed model.
On announcement they gathered a slew of press coverage from all the usual media.
To remind us all of what they are looking to achieve (or not) here’s their press release.
Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale will today announce the party’s plan to legalise cannabis for adult use. Dr Di Natale said our current approach to drugs in this country is an unmitigated disaster and that it is time for real reform.
“The war on drugs has failed. Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. It’s time Australia joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use,” Dr Di Natale said.
“We need to get real about cannabis. Almost seven million Australians have tried or used cannabis socially but right now just having a small amount of cannabis in your possession could get you a criminal record.
“Cannabis accounts for most illicit drug arrests across Australia and each year cannabis consumption and arrests are growing.
“Prohibition has failed. Using cannabis remains illegal, but this has not stopped Australians from using it.
“As a drug and alcohol doctor, I’ve seen that the ‘tough on drugs’ approach causes enormous harm. It drives people away from getting help when they need it and exposes them to a dangerous black market.
“The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. Our plan to create a legal market for cannabis production and sale will reduce the risks, bust the business model of criminal dealers and syndicates and protect young people from unfair criminal prosecutions.
“In a poll last year, 55% of Australians said they believe cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol or tobacco.
“The Greens’ plan to legalise cannabis for adult use is a major step forward for drug law reform in Australia. This is an important and necessary reform supported by the majority of Australians.
“I call on political parties of all stripes to join the Greens in committing to just legalise it.”
President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Dr Alex Wodak welcomed the announcement.
“Banning cannabis hasn’t reduced its use or availability yet it has distracted police from following up more serious crimes, harmed a lot of young people and helped make some criminals rich,” Dr Wodak said.
“Regulating cannabis will give government more control and increase government revenue, which can be used to fund drug prevention and treatment.”
The Greens’ plan will redefine cannabis as a legal substance in a regulated market and will redirect resources into treatment. The plan will establish an Australian Cannabis Agency to issue licenses for production and sale of cannabis, monitor and enforce license conditions and review and monitor the regulatory scheme to ensure it is functioning properly.
Under the reform up to six plants can be grown for personal use, but the Australian Cannabis Agency will impose strict penalties for the sale of unlicensed or black market cannabis; the sale of cannabis to under age consumers and other breaches of license conditions.
The plan is expected to raise in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the Federal Budget, part of which would fund treatment, education, and other harm reduction programs.
Simple FAQ Page:http://drugs.org.au/faq/
For comparison the Uruguay model https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_Uruguay
Cannabis Law report contacted Di Natale’s offices and requested an interview about the party’s plans once the tsunami of mis-informed mainstream media had ploughed through the subject with a complete lack of insight.
We forwarded the following questions to Di Natale’s press people on 17 April 2018 after taking a cursory look at their 2 page plan. As yet we are awaiting a response.
We have edited the selection of questions sent through to Di Natale’s office. The following will give you a flavour of our line of questioning. Please contact us if you’d like to see or receive a full list of our questions.
1) I see that you are proposing something not to dissimilar from the Uruguayan model. Why have you chosen this model over say the more successful US state models in places like Oregon, Colorado & Washington? With the Uruguay model there are a number of issues – for example
a) Will you ask purchasers to register on a database?
b) What will daily purchase quota be?
c) Will you need to draw up banking legislation to manage international UN drug trafficking rules & regs?
2) What opportunities do you see for public private partnership in your proposed model?
3) At the moment a not insignificant amount of Australian capital is being invested in the US & canadian cannabis markets and from conversations . Do you have a plan to try and get some of this capital to remain in Australia and use it to help build a local cannabis sector
5) Do you see the opportunity to grow an industry sector to create Australia wide employment and especially in ancillary and not “flower touching” businesses .
6) How much product choice do you envisage?
7) State vs Federal
Will this be a federal state partnership or just s federal programme
Sales will be taxed with a standard GST model.. do you envisage the states will want their piece of the pie too
Will there be extra taxation of growers, processors etc as companies involved in “cannabis”
How will compliance be managed , by public bodies or private enterprises?
8) Is there anything about an Australian model that you’d like to distinguish from other models?
9) How do you intend to unravel the black market
Over three weeks later and a number of email exchanges we are still waiting on any response from Di Natale’s offices.
Without a doubt the announcement was timed for maximum media coverage as Prime Minister Turnbull was in the UK at the Commonwealth leaders meeting.
Yes, it was a shrewd play politically, the Australian Labor party won’t dare say anything to upset the apple cart with an election call on the horizon so the ball is left in the Green’s court.
Yes it will pull voters towards the Greens but will it gain them seats ?
We think not unless they can start taking the subject more seriously.
A two page document looking like a slim version of something a socialist party of the 1970’s might have foisted upon their public won’t pass muster in 2018.
We believe that many of the questions we directed towards Di Natale deserve further investigation.
At the moment their approach seems to be maximum government management with the emphasis on control rather than looking at a market model combining the best of the public and private sectors.
The US state experience has shown over the last 3 years that the successful states, (Colorado, Oregon & Washington) have realized that strong government and legislation (with plenty of amendments to balance the market and processed quickly) with an insistence on compliance, quality standards and enforcement and working with a highly regulated private sector is the best way to generate a tax base, create new employment opportunities, business invention and the slowly dismantle the black market.
It appears to us that the Greens have chosen, in their plan, to ignore the private sector or if they choose to work with the sector it’ll only be a few favoured players.
There is an opportunity in this new industry to create a plethora of opportunities. The professions, agriculture, technology, retail, marketing, logistics, …… the list is endless.
With the US market estimated to turn over $U25 Billion by 2025 (we believe sooner) and the industry expected to grow quicker than the tech sector did in the late 1990’s we can be assured that the US will yet again build the Apples, the Ubers & Starbucks of cannabis.
Australia has a great opportunity to be at the forefront too.
Currently there’s a fairly sensible, if slightly restrictive, medical cannabis environment in play, both on a federal & state level that sets a simple template that countries like the UK and even Canada lag behind.
Australia’s greatest capital though is its human and intellectual capital. Our US contacts are currently telling us that Australia is now the second biggest investor into the US cannabis after Canada.
We hear on a weekly basis about Australian investors both big and small looking to invest their money into the US market. Money that we suggest could be directed into the Australian domestic market.
For us though it’s the human IP & capital leaving Australia and starting companies in the US & Canada, that’s the real worry.
Australia has fantastic agricultural expertise and understands how to create gold standard agricultural products for global markets, this knowledge is now to be found in the valleys and warehouses of Colorado, California & Oregon rather than NSW, Victoria & Qld.
We’re discovering this applies to technology, F&B and many other ancillary sectors as the entrepreneurial cannabis class head to the U.S to find opportunity.
Australia can be a market leader in the sector. But if political parties, like the Greens are serious about creating a model they need to do more research, and think of cannabis as more than just a health and government issue.
At the moment most 15 & 16 year olds are more aware of cannabis and the issues surrounding it than their future representatives in state houses & Canberra.
It’s time to start removing the black market from the equation, create employment opportunities and build a healthy and honest approach to cannabis in Australia.
The Greens may have made an announcement and have a plan on paper but what will they do to engage others and build upon that plan?