Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The cannabis bill and the referendum

Yesterday, the government released its draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which will be put to a non-binding referendum at the next election. I'm not a drug policy expert, but Russell Brown is, and he thinks its pretty good. And pretty obviously, it will be a massive improvement on the status quo, which criminalises a huge number of people for mostly harmless private behaviour, while legitimising significant police intrusion, not to mention a total waste of resources. So, come referendum time, I will be supporting it.

Of course, there is still the problem that that referendum is non-binding, so no matter which way we vote, the government could just ignore it, or change the regime under us while claiming public support for their version. The government's process here is completely unsatisfactory. They clearly have an idea of what policy they want to put to the public, but lack the commitment to actually stand behind it or stand behind our right to decide on it. So as usual for this government we have bullshit half-measures: a non-binding referendum on a concrete proposal. Instead of wasting our time like this, they should do it properly: pass the law, with a referendum-based commencement clause - exactly as has been done for the End of Life Choice Act.