Weed-onomics

I see from the Herald today that there is a weed shortage in the South Island, which has driven up prices, classic supply/demand economics.

The?Telegraph in the UK had a recent article about the economics of legalising cannabis.

How much is cannabis worth these days? According to the Institute for Economic and Research, up to ?900m could be raised annually through taxation of regulated cannabis market.

Meanwhile ?361 million is currently spent every year on policing and treating users of illegally traded and consumed cannabis.

It seems a lot to spend on punishing people for an activity most of us barely believe should be a crime any more. And that?s even before one factors in the potential benefit legalisation and regulation of cannabis could have for the UK exchequer.

Then, there is the job creation potential. In Colorado, which legalised marijuana at the beginning of 2014, 10,000 now work in the marijuana industry: growing and harvesting crops, working in dispensaries, and making and selling equipment. Crime has fallen: in the first three months after legalisation in Denver, the city experienced a 14.6 per cent drop in crime and specifically violent crime is down 2.4 per cent. Assaults were down by 3.7 per cent.

This reduction led to further savings and allowing stretched police forces to concentrate on more serious issues. Meanwhile, cannabis use by young people actually decreased, an uncomfortable fact for prohibitionists who argue that legalisation would simply encourage more teens to take up cannabis.

All of the end of the world scenarios put about by opponents of legalisation have failed to materialise and often the exact opposite has occured.

Perhaps the way forward is also outlined int eh Telegraph article.

In an age when every penny of government spending is fought for, the demonstrated potential savings and revenues at very least deserve serious investigation. Revenue raised from a regulated cannabis trade could be directed towards education on safe use of cannabis.

That?s why the next government ? regardless of who it is led by, should set up a Royal Commission into drug legislation.

Why a Royal Commission? Because I firmly believe this is a way forward for our fractured politics. A non-partisan commission can help politicians take hold of an issue and look at the evidence beyond the fears of being blindsided by attacks from the other side. Parties can agree to participate, evidence can be heard, everyday people can submit and read facts, opinions and analysis: it?s a real opportunity to create the ?evidence-based policy? to which every party claims they aspire.

Cannabis has been illegal forever in NZ…and still it is readily available, at least in Auckland. The drought is obviously affecting supply in the South Island, along with the price.

But instead of spending millions every year in unsuccessfully combatting cannabis the government instead could be garnering millions more in taxes, which could be used to off-set any health effects.

 

– The Telegraph

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