So some of you who are new to this issue may be wondering, what exactly is the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation? Well that is a very appropriate question to ask. While both ideas push for leniency in drug laws, they are separate approaches with different frameworks.
In Australia it is illegal to smoke, sell, grow or possess cannabis, while the punishments vary from criminal to civil from state to state. Legalisation would mean to overturn this system where an individual would be breaking no law if they were to smoke or possess marijuana. Similar to tobacco or alcohol one would be able to buy weed from a state-managed pharmacy or in a more privatised setting a local co-operative. Growing the drug personally would involve acquiring “hard-to-acquire-but-easy-to-lose” licenses, as suggested by the most recent Australia21 report . This is being conducted in measures around the world which we will delve into in later blog posts.
Decriminalisation on the other hand means that the process of possessing, growing, selling or smoking marijuana is still illegal, it is simply punished by civil penalties. This is similar to a speeding ticket, in which most of the offences are dealt with a fine. We here at Cannabis Isn’t Criminal believe that penalties for cannabis laws should reformed as the current criminal penalties that can be applied to young people can tarnish their professional and travel opportunities in the future.
Thankfully there are a number of Australian states that have already decriminalised minor offences, while the Cannabis Cautioning Scheme in NSW is a step towards fairness, but there is still the capacity to be criminally charged in NSW as well as a host of other states: Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria. We feel that these states, as well as the already partly-decriminalised South Australia, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory should implement full decriminalisation, in which fines are delineated to minor offences, while repeat offenders are subject to counselling and treatment programs to help them in their struggle against addiction.