IS IT TIME TO LEGALISE: Recreational marijuana has cleared a legal hurdle in ACT, is it time for other states to follow suit?
IS IT TIME TO LEGALISE: Recreational marijuana has cleared a legal hurdle in ACT, is it time for other states to follow suit? DARREN ENGLAND

BEHIND THE DESK: Should we legalise marijuana in Australia?

High expectations for budding industry

By Jenna Thompson

Despite my Northern Rivers upbringing, I was never interested in smoking pot. But this latest step toward legalising marijuana in Australia has me lighting up for very different reasons.

Before anyone panics about the annihilation of society come January 31 when the new ACT laws come into effect, take a moment to consider the new dialogue this has now started about the potential for future economic gain.

While Australia has only put a toe in the water, we can already examine other countries that have recently adopted the industry and see the economic benefits.

In the United States, a report from the Colorado Department of Revenue revealed that, since becoming legalised in 2014, recreational marijuana industry sales have topped $6 billion.

Meanwhile Washington State's legal marijuana industry earned nearly $400 million for the 2018 financial year.

Furthermore, the burgeoning industry is among the fastest-growing job markets in the United States, having created more than 200,000 full time positions. And that doesn't mean entry-level jobs either. Professional and technical workers, such as tax experts and accountants make up more than half of this new workforce.

But what about the association between marijuana and crime? Data from legalised states across the US revealed little to no effect on crime. In fact, in California, crime rates have decreased by 20 percent since legalising marijuana.

Australia has a long way to go before they see that kind of income, but I have high expectations for this budding industry.

In the weed debate, who is the winner?

By Adam Hourigan

I HAVE never felt the need to take illegal drugs. Never even put a cigarette in my mouth. Never felt the need, but I've certainly been put in the situation on more than one occasion.

A single joint, passed around between four or five people after a long night, which probably doesn't have the effect that a scotch or a "cool" espresso Martini has, though, has the possibility of making all these people criminals.

Don't get me wrong. I detest drug takers. I have seen drugs destroy the lives of people I have considered close friends, the drug overtaking everything about their lives as it pushes everything else away.

I've seen alcohol do that too though. Poker machines too. The scourge of cigarettes as their victims willingly kill themselves through a habit they can't kick.

They aren't considered criminals though, they are considered taxpayers. The excise on alcohol, gambling and cigarettes makes our government a pretty penny, and while ever a government seemingly can't control it, they'll make it illegal, all the while filling our jail system with people that fall into a trap they can't get out of.

It's all a matter of scale. If you want a quiet drink at night, who cares? If you're manufacturing your own and crossing state lines a la Copperhead Road, then perhaps the law might want to take a look. Similarly, if you're involved in producing copious quantities of pills or weed and get them into a habit they can't break, you probably should be in trouble.

A criminal record for a puff though? It doesn't feel right to me.

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