Hand holding a cannabis leaf

Australia should legalise cannabis to get kids to stop using it

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The latest National Drug Household Survey reported that 13.3% of Australians aged between 14 and 19 consumed cannabis recently, down from 24.6% in 2001, but up from the low in 2016 at 12.2%. Even though that’s a great downwards trend, cannabis should not be used by minors. So how can we get those percentages down even more?

Legalise it.

Legalising cannabis on all levels is the best theoretical, and the best tried and tested way to reduce cannabis use among young Australians. Here’s why.

Access

One of the biggest arguments anti-legalisation supporters make, is that if cannabis is legalised, of course, more young people are going to have access to it since it’s going to be everywhere. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cannabis in prohibition – only being sold on the black market – is how it gets everywhere. Unregulated. Untaxed. And left for the many vast criminal organisations to maintain. Most criminals couldn’t care less who they sell to, as long as they’ve got the money.

If cannabis was legalised, the black market would eventually crumble due to the higher quality of products being sold, the safety standards of production, the eventual drop in price, on top of the fact that cannabis consumers would no longer have the need to interact with criminal organisations.

Stigma

The simple fact that it is ‘illegal’ gives it a sense of appeal to some children. It’s the rebellious thing to do. They become ‘cool’ because they’re not supposed to do it. They go against the norm. All of these perceptions would be stripped away if it was legalised.

As a user on Reddit once said:

It’s like Facebook: not cool anymore once your mom and grandma start using it.

Cartoons, movies, celebrities, you’ll find the act of heroic rebellion almost everywhere in our society. And that can often be used by children in ways parents and completely underestimate. If you make it legal, it’s not something they can use to rebel with, because it’s not ‘a bad thing to do’ anymore.

Education

All drugs should be a completely open book for children to learn and understand. By keeping information or refusing to educate them on certain subjects, you’re causing far more harm than good. Truthful and open education is a far greater tool to help those still developing to make the right choices for them.

Scrap the “Say No To Drugs” campaign. Scrap the fear-mongering that you’ll turn into a sloth for consuming cannabis. And scrap the notion that cannabis is a dangerous drug. It’s not – alcohol is.

Alcohol is responsible for killing 10% of all young Australians aged between 14 and 17. Expand that age bracket to those between 15 and 24 – and alcohol is now killing 260 of them every year, putting another 10,400 young Australians in hospital. How many does cannabis kill? Zero.

Alcohol is the dangerous drug. Not cannabis.

Evidence

In the end, you don’t have to take our word for it. Other regions around the world have already fully legalised cannabis and the hard evidence speaks for itself.

Two years after Canada legalised cannabis in 2018, cannabis consumers aged between 15 and 17 dropped from 20% to 10% – effectively halving the number of young Canadians consuming cannabis.

In the US, legalised cannabis resulted in “an 8% decline in the odds that teens would report trying cannabis in the previous 30 days and a 9% decrease in teens reporting frequent use”.

It’s wiser to educate our future than to make them fearful of something that shouldn’t be.

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