Just about every point that Mark Morford makes here here for how cannabis can revitalise the Californian economy also applies in Australia. Something like 300,000 Australians allegedly consume cannabis on a daily basis, while another million or two will light a joint or three this weekend, or the next. All are committing a crime, and all those many millions of dollars they pay out to break the law to feel a little better will go to suspected criminals. If California could theoritically raise $5 or $7 billion a year by legaliziing and taxing cannabis, there's probably, at least, $2 to $4 billion in extra tax revenue just waiting to be scooped up and put to good use in Australia.
Those clips popping up on the evening news of air police carrying great armloads of very wild looking cannabis plants out of isolated rainforests are fantastic. Is there a better distributor of cannabis seeds across a large potential growing area than helicopter blades? Probably not. But it ensures that in six months or a year they can go in again and haul out another likely wild crop as the 'War On Drugs' continues along its expensive, destructive, immature and ultimately absurd path.
....could there be a better time to decriminalize/fully legalize pot? Or, more fully, to decriminalize pot, and then spread respectable pot shops and vending machines and dispensaries far and wide, instill quality control and decent oversight and then tax the living hell out of the glorious, stress-reducing goodness, as we stop wasting billions fighting its grand ubiquity and instead sink into profitable pools of warm, hazy progress? Don't you already know the answer?
Are the discussions ongoing? Are they passing the bong of possibility around the state Senate chambers? You're damn right they are. What's holding them back? Probably the usual: the negative PR, looking "soft" on crime, encouraging permissiveness, pressure from prison lobbies, and so on. Don't worry, Sacramento. Everyone's already plenty drunk/high on prescription meds trying to alleviate fears of losing their job to care about that nonsense right now. Get to it.
Is there really anyone left who doesn't already know the "War on Drugs" is a pathetic joke, an abject failure and a taxpayer nightmare, and the only reason it survives at all is to fund the CIA and fellate the prison guard unions and support a shameful prison system, and to let politicians say they're "tough on crime" so they can to deflect all those uninformed parents who relentlessly whine about pot in public schools just before dashing off a wine-tasting party to snort a nice line of Bolivian coke?
Anyone left, furthermore, who doesn't know that pot is far safer than booze, less addictive, nonviolent, more transportable, easier to light, and generally won't interfere with your ability to crawl across the carpet and lick cookie crumbs from your lover's thighs? And sure, while heavy, daily usage can make you slow and stupid and rather useless to the world, well, so can a six-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper and six hours of TV every day.
Let's phrase this grand scenario in another way: Why the hell not try it? What have we got to lose? What, we could go more broke? We could get more desperate and anxious? Fact is, economic nightmares need not breed only miserable stories of lost homes and lost jobs and shuttered businesses. They can also spawn creative solutions, innovative thinking, widespread munchies. Now is the time.