“If we take it away from criminals and put it within the hands of professionals within the health environment we know we’ll reduce harm and we know we’ll ensure that anybody who develops a problem with use gets referred to the specialists and the health professionals that they need.” – Richard Di Natale, Leader of the Greens.

Marijuana. Weed. Pot. Green. Mary Jane. Jazz cigarettes. The Devils Lettuce. You know the stuff. But where do you stand on the legalisation debate of the drug?

As of the beginning of this year, cannabis became legal for recreational use in a number of US states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington DC. This brought America in line with Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Greece, parts of India, Italy, Jamaica, Luzembourg, Malta, Mexico, Myanmar, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Solvenia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and Uruguay — all of which have made recreational weed use legal or decriminalised. However Australia is still in the thick of the debate.

In 2015-16, of the two million Australians who use cannabis each year there were almost 80,000 cannabis arrests, a 6 per cent increase from the previous year. However we’re beginning to see a slow move towards a change in stance on the drug with Victoria becoming the first state to legalise marijuana for young children suffering from epilepsy, while NSW also allows use for patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer or multiple sclerosis. Queensland’s laws are the most flexible in the country granting patients of any age or suffering from a range of illnesses access to medicinal cannabis products. While South Australia currently only allows medical cannabis in limited circumstances where conventional treatment has been unsuccessful, as does Western Australia,  Tasmania the NT and the ACT.

While discussion surrounding medical marijuana is a step in the right direction, we also need to talk about the legalisation of recreational cannabis use to get us on par with a number of countries in rest of the world. Wavelength spoke with Greens leader and senator, Richard Di Natale, and former Labor party and attorney general, Michael Atkinson, about benefits and consequences surrounding marijuana legalisation in SA as well speaking with a Melbourne medicinal marijuana provider to suss the potential benefits to Adelaide stakeholders and who can access the substance.

Air Date: May 14, 2018
Reporter: Jovanna Pantelic
Photo: Unsplash

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