WHILE the focus of the cannabis debate in South Australia has been on legalising it for medical uses, the real job and investment creation opportunity lies in building a recreational cannabis industry.
There are now nine states in the US, including California, where cannabis for recreational and medical use is legal. And Canada is to follow suit next year.
The experience of the jurisdictions that have allowed for legal cannabis has been marked by employment growth, investment, tax revenues flowing to government and perhaps most importantly, declining crime rates. Instead of fighting a futile “war” against cannabis use, SA should look to be the first Australian jurisdiction to follow the US and Canadian lead.
Some of the US experiences are worth highlighting. Cannabis dealers are strictly licensed and tax revenues are generated from sales. In Colorado, tax revenues for 2015-16 exceeded forecasts by $50 million.
In Washington, state tax revenues exceeded $250 million while in Oregon $5 million is being generated in tax each month, double the official forecast.
The employment growth generated by legal cannabis in the US is providing comfort as hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs disappear. Forbesrecently reported legal cannabis employment is set to rise by 300,000 between now and 2020.
In Canada, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is championing legal cannabis, one of the major selling points is jobs and investment growth for cash-strapped provinces.
The reduction in crime that comes from legalising cannabis is one of the most fascinating outcomes for those jurisdictions in the US which have trodden this path over the past five years.
In Washington state the legalisation of recreational marijuana has been credited with a significant reduction of rapes and theftsand the reduction of the consumption of other drugs and binge alcohol drinking.
In Denver, Colorado, property crime has been down since the introduction of legalised cannabis. Of course there is also the fact that, as Mexican drug bosses who supply the Californian market are finding out, legal cannabis undermines the black market. In July this year researchers from the University of California, found that legal cannabis dispensaries actually reduce crime in their areas, not increase it.
Cannabis is a fact of life in South Australia. According to the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, released last month, one in 10 South Australians reported recently using it.
It can also be an income and employment generator for a state that needs both in spades.
Original by Greg Barns from Adelaidenow