Economists argue for legalisation of recreational cannabis use in Queensland
The recreational use of cannabis should be legalised in Queensland and such a move could reap millions for the state's coffers, a Brisbane-based economics firm has argued in a new report.
The report, released this month by Bluegreen Economics, argues for the legalisation of recreational cannabis use, which it says would add tens of millions of dollars to the Queensland economy.
While Parliament passed legislation in October that allowed for the medicinal, prescribed use of cannabis products, Bluegreen economists say the state government should go a step further. The Queensland Parliament unanimously passed legislation in October, which Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has hailed as Australia's "most progressive", that allowed for the medicinal, prescribed use of cannabis products.
Citing the Colorado experience in the United States, the Bluegreen economists said the state government should go a step further.
"We find that both the state government and cannabis consumers would realise a significant net benefit under a regulated and taxed recreational cannabis scheme," Bluegreen argues in its report.
"For government, there is likely to be increased tax and fee revenue of around $90 million in the medium term (three to five years) and significant savings in terms of decreased police, court and prison costs.
"The economy is likely to benefit from a new cannabis industry, depending on the particular regulate and tax model adopted, with new jobs created." Those benefits, the economists argued, would be offset by some additional government costs related to administration and compliance, along with a "likely small" increase in mental and physical health costs brought on by new users, or existing users increasing their intake. "These additional health costs could be mitigated by a public education campaign," the report found. But the report did little to sway Ms Palaszczuk, who said her Labor government would not take Bluegreen's advice. "Recreational cannabis is an illicit drug when used for non-medical purposes and my government does not support its legalisation," she said. "My government supports the use of medicinal marijuana for people who need treatment in exceptional circumstances. "That's why Queensland now has the most progressive medicinal cannabis legislation in the country. "It is required to meet strict Therapeutic Goods Administration standards to ensure its quality and is prescribed by doctors within a medical framework." A state government report in March found the legalisation of medicinal cannabis would likely reap the state millions in additional revenue.
"With the use of medicinal cannabis increasing worldwide, the medicinal cannabis market could represent new opportunities for the Queensland agriculture industry," the report, An overview of medicinal cannabis, says.
That view was reflected in the Bluegreen report.
"The economy is likely to benefit in terms of a new cannabis industry, depending on the particular regulate and tax model adopted," Bluegreen argued.
"A more open market, where existing and new businesses can legally sell cannabis from cafes and the like will be of the greatest benefit to the economy as new products and innovative delivery mechanisms are developed and new jobs created."
Bluegreen found while the magnitude of marijuana's legalisation was difficult to quantify "in a preliminary report like this", it was likely to be "substantial".
A spokesman for the state Liberal National Party opposition said: "The LNP does not support the legalisation of recreational cannabis use in Queensland."