June 16th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Reflections on the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx

EDITORIAL Significance of report into shooting down of MH17

CANBERRA OBSERVED Lee Rhiannon: too Bolshie or not Bolshie enough?

POLITICS Wading further through the Greens party bilge

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

POLITICS Greens promise to keep Australia legally stoned and welfare dependent

ENVIRONMENT Scientist sacked for challenging claims of demise of Great Barrier Reef

REDEFINITION OF MARRIAGE Humpty Dumpty has his way with words

CHRISTIANITY AND SOCIETY Tradition, Christianity and the law in contemporary Australia

EDUCATION Ladybird, ladybird: adventures in literacy

OFFICE LAUNCH NCC Sydney: a new chapter in a continuing story

ASIAN AFFAIRS Indonesia takes religious syncretism to the nth degree

WA RALLY FOR LIFE 3300 crosses in Perth poignant reminders of abortions

HUMOUR News snippets

PHILOSOPHY Bendigo initiative

MUSIC Gain is loss: Where is there left to discover?

CINEMA 2001: A Space Odyssey: Unsurpassed 50 years on

BOOK REVIEW The house that could not stand

BOOK REVIEW Australia's first official war historian


EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

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Greens promise to keep Australia legally stoned and welfare dependent

by Eleni Arapoglu

News Weekly, June 16, 2018

The Greens plan for legalising recreational marijuana looks more like an economic plan than a social one, the aim mainly being to raise more taxes while creating greater welfare dependency.

They and a fawning media of course know that the “war on drugs” has failed. A war fought by putting down their arms and pandering to the drug users (such as testing their poisons for them and providing “safe” venues for poisoning themselves).

The Greens also argue that valuable cost savings will flow from diverting police time from pursuing marijuana-related crimes to more urgent matters. These promises of cost-savings are also bolstered with promises of added tax revenue from sales of legal marijuana.

The Greens have found an ally in libertarian LDP Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has expressed “concern” about rising national debt and welfare costs.

However, the Greens’ proposal relies on doubtful assumptions and deliberately focuses on one side of the economic equation only. First, it assumes that a sizeable bulk of drug dealing will disappear; second, it supposes that the recreational use of marijuana has limited downstream health-related costs. Factoring in these considerations provides the net economic and community benefit.

The Greens and Senator Leyonhjelm agree that an undisclosed portion of the anticipated GST on marijuana will be redistributed for the treatment of alcohol and tobacco-related diseases. In other words, the tax money raised will be redirected to help those who choose to ingest substances with known negative health outcomes.

The Greens are guilty of a contradiction here. They rail against the evils of big tobacco, alcohol and sugar but paradoxically allow them to operate so long as they are highly taxed and the public purse picks up the health tab.

Big Weed to share the spoils

Leyonhjelm’s budget costings show legalisation would increase marijuana availability. As purportedly one in three Australians have used cannabis, it is basic supply and demand. Inexpensive and desired products equal more consumption.

And a rebranded Big Tobacco 2.0 –Phillip Morris’ parent company Altria has bought the domain names “AltriaCannabis.com” and “AltriaMarijuana.com”– is poised to make billions.

As various U.S. states have experienced since marijuana was legalised, companies and markets went into a frenzy. Australia’s medical pot industry has already made significant global gains and legalisation will exponentially increase profits, with the added spinoff of replenishing drying up government coffers.

But given that drug dealers also make a living from low-cost, high-yield products and specialise in circumventing the law (Pablo Escobar would either bribe or, failing that, kill politicians, judges and policemen), why would legalisation suddenly cause criminals to give up their stake in a lucrative investment?

Moreover, the Greens also want an excise added. So, why would consumers want to buy a taxed product over a cheaper, illegal one?

Untaxed products have even greater appeal in struggling economic environments, including Australia, where personal and national debt are high, real wages are stagnating and one in two households receives at least some welfare.

All these factors realistically point to an increase in criminal smuggling, not a decrease. Legalisation merely means greater competition for market share.

Trafficking, crime will rise

Tobacco, alcohol, and prostitution are legal in most Western nations. Yet they are still all subject to high rates of illegal trafficking. And all these are intractably linked within a packaged network of pleasure-seeking industries. Why should anyone assume a different pattern for legalised marijuana?

Colorado is touted as the pinup state for successful marijuana legalisation. But, on closer inspection, it is far from a convincing picture of sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya. Drug cartels are keeping law officials busy by paying “weed farmers” to grow plants in the state’s vast forests and selling out of shop fronts.

Fatal crashes in Colorado have more than doubled since 2013. This is unsurprising, since drug use is linked with high-risk behaviour. Often more than one substance is consumed. Drivers testing positive for marijuana went from 47 in 2013 to 115 in 2016; many detected with both alcohol and marijuana.

Legalisation often means less screening. In Colorado, marijuana testing is not compulsory, so actual figures of driving under the influence may be even higher.

Taken together with reports of increasing numbers of homeless pot smokers seeking refuge in Colorado, these avoidable costs are straining an already overburdened health-care system.

With more data showing THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that causes the “high” in cannabis) levels much higher than decades ago, and a host of dangerous chemicals and fungi being discovered in marijuana, the health warnings sound eerily similar to those of tobacco and alcohol.

Yet, despite drug lobbyists’ efforts to smear anyone alluding to the harms of marijuana as prohibitionist scaremongers, the evidence strongly supports its links with respiratory problems, addiction, cognitive impair­ment and, most importantly, as a gateway drug.

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy’s 2008 Marijuana Sourcebook states that marijuana produces greater risk of drug abuse or dependency on heroin and cocaine; lobbyists vehemently deny this link.

In promoting a culture of addiction, adult rights to recreational pleasure are incessantly emphasised. However, as any marketing executive will admit, it is not from the occasional users but from the repeat customers (that is, addicts) that the most profit is reaped. That means mass promotion to those who can least afford the consequences and are most likely to depend on scraps of government welfare: the young, the poor, the vulnerable, and indigenous and rural communities.

This is where the unrealised nexus between legalisation and the drug runners becomes pertinent. A prohibition on advertising does not mean there will be no marketing. The legalisation itself is probably the most powerful marketing tool in this instance; for nobody believes that it can be done surreptitiously, without great public notice. This fact, and the enormous corporate interest even just the possibility of legalisation of marijuana has engendered, will inevitably lead to a far greater demand for the drug than is now admitted. Companies don’t invest where there is no growth opportunity, after all.

Combine this certain growth in the market for marijuana with the indisputable fact that marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin and cocaine (for instance); then let the Greens explain how they will keep the criminal gangs out of encouraging marijuana use and then supplying the (still illegal) heroin and cocaine to an ever-vaster customer base.

Will the Greens then suggest we legalise heroin? Cocaine? The entire gamut of “recreational” drugs? Or will they pull back from encouraging such a social disaster?

By far the most effective weapon in directing the public’s view away from this bleak picture is the faux compassion engineered through the Trojan horse of medical marijuana, which Soros-funded mouthpiece Ethan Nadelmann admits opens the path to full drug legalisation.

Indigenous leader Marcia Langton once stated: “Greens politicians preferred Aborigines drunk and stupid.” Can we now add to that comment: “stoned and welfare dependant”?

Eleni Arapoglou is communications writer for the Drug Advisory Council of Australia (DACA).

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