Earlier this week, Australia learned that pro-pot political party Legalise Cannabis Western Australia (LCWA) earned 2% of the first person votes in the state election. This resulted in the party securing two seats (one for Dr. Brain Walker and one for Sophia Moermond).
Following the unexpected election success of LCWA, ABC Perth decided to hold a Facebook poll asking Australians “should recreational cannabis be legalised in WA?”
Unsurprisingly, the results were mixed, but mostly supported legalisation. As of the time of writing, over 2,770 people have “liked” the post, over 400 people have “hearted” the post, and roughly 30 people have “angry reacted” to the post.
The most illuminating part of the post, however, can be seen in the comments. While the pro-cannabis debate is often framed as a bunch of stoners pushing for wider acceptance of their vice of choice, the commenters proved (yet again) that Australia has many rational reasons to legalise cannabis.
Most prominently, commenters pointed out that legalisation would increase Australia’s tax revenue. Currently, Australia’s black market cannabis industry is worth $18.5 billion, which would net us a fairly hefty chunk of change in taxes.
Commenters also pointed out that legalising cannabis would decrease the burden low-level drug offences like cannabis possession place on our police and court system. Currently, policing cannabis costs Australia $1.1 billion annually.
Other commenters pointed out that legalising cannabis would reduce market share of the black market – redirecting cannabis revenue from gangs to Australian-owned, tax-paying businesses.
Finally, a significant number of commenters compared cannabis to alcohol and cigarettes – mirroring Dr. Brian Walker’s conclusion that cannabis is safer.
It is a heck of a lot safer than any alcohol — the deaths from alcohol and tobacco are immense.
Of course, many naysayers were quick to give stock standard arguments against cannabis use – though these commenters were definitely outnumbered.
Ultimately, ABC Perth’s post reflects the changes in public opinion towards cannabis. While pro-cannabis advocates were once the minority, a government report showed that 41% of Australians now support cannabis legalisation.
While WA’s premier Mark McGowan may have ruled out legalising cannabis for now, the tides are changing in favour of legislation. Like it or not, LCWA’s election success and the ABC’s poll make it clear that legislation is the will of the people.