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Promoting Illicit Drug Prevention Initiatives Nationally

Promoting Illicit Drug Prevention Initiatives Nationally

 

Attention: Pamela McColl, SAM Canada.

 

On behalf of the Board, Drug Free Australia we write in support of your effort to prevent the legalization of cannabis in Canada.

 

Drug Free Australia has a strong position against the legalization of recreational Marijuana/Cannabis.

 

The main reasons are:

  1. The pro-legalization lobby has neglected to mention similarities with the Big Tobacco industry, which for decades has been responsible for an enormous burden of disease on a world-wide scale and has failed to provide enough taxes for governments to manage the health and economic consequences. Tobacco taxes don’t even come close to covering the costs; nor will those from Big Marijuana. Why should we make the same mistake twice? The figures used to persuade us of the mythical ‘gold mine’ that is being sold to governments are highly questionable. The following are just some examples from the United States that should not be overlooked:
  • In Colorado, marijuana taxes have failed to cover state budget shortfalls. In fact, the budget deficit there doubled in the last few years, despite claims that cannabis taxes could turn deficit into surplus!
  • In Washington State, half of the promised $42 million marijuana tax money for prevention programs and schools by 2016 never materialized.
  1. Other claims made are also worthy of question.

Declining crime rates? There is still an active black market in Colorado and other places.  According to Dr Kevin Sabet (SAM): States that have legalized marijuana also continue to see a thriving black market. The Washington Post recently pointed to the likely return to the black market to sell recreational cannabis in California because of the complex and highly costly regulatory process being put in place. Small business owners and farmers will find it very difficult to compete

Crime rates in Australia are high because of increasing cannabis use. Cannabis use has been decriminalized for 30 years here and so no one is in jail because of its use. Decriminalization is a step before legalization and imposes fines and other soft penalties. As a result, Australia’s cannabis use rates are some of the highest in the world. We have nothing to gain (and everything to lose), by further sanctioning this drug as ‘legal’.

Boosting employment growth? According to Dr Sabet, former White House Adviser on Drug Policy and SAM Director:  As marijuana use has increased in states that have legalized it, so has use by employees, both on and off the job. Large businesses in Colorado now state that after legalization they have had to hire out-of-state residents in order to find employees, particularly for safety-sensitive jobs like bus drivers, train operators, and pilots.

Reduced alcohol consumption and health/safety issues? Dr Sabet also points out that ‘in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana  are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales despite arguing users will switch to a “safer” drug.

 

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Increased consumption rates: When a drug is condoned through legalization its use increases. This is borne out in the current literature and in history, given the high rates of use of the legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The UN World Drug Report, 2016 have pointed to a rise in North America over the past 12 months.

We strongly support the following from Dr Sabet: Marijuana addiction is real, and simply ignoring this health condition will only cost us down the road. We should assess marijuana users for drug use disorders as well as mental health problems, and assist those into recovery. This can’t happen in a climate that promotes use’.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information and references, if required.

Yours sincerely        

Major Brian Watters AO

President, Drug Free Australia

5 January, 2018