Liberal Democrats MP for Northern Victoria Tim Quilty has said legalising recreational cannabis would create a tourism ‘goldmine’ for the first state to do it, especially along its borders.

Speaking at Wodonga’s first ever 4/20 day public gathering on Tuesday, Quilty said: “If Victoria legalises cannabis, we’re going to get cannabis tourists coming from New South Wales.”

Quilty compared the situation to when poker machines were illegal in Victoria and “busloads of people” would cross the border into New South Wales to play them.

Tim Quilty: war on drugs has failed

“The same possibility is here with cannabis, we could get people coming from Sydney, from Brisbane, to Victoria for a holiday, just crossing the border into Wodonga and staying, enjoying it,” he said.

Calling for recreational use to be legalised, he added: “The Liberal Democrats party policy is to legalise any drug less harmful than alcohol. There are very few health harms established with cannabis. It’s a much safer drug than alcohol. Let’s legalise it.”

Quilty insisted research connecting cannabis use with schizophrenia was inconclusive and that legalisation would be popular with voters.

“I think people will get on board with it,” he said. “There’s a number of people here who use cannabis and it’s growing. It’s going to be legal sooner or later, I’d like to make that sooner.”

Quilty said the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has failed, leaving organised crime to benefit.

“By making it illegal we’ve created massive problems… with a huge black market, [and] all the associated problems that come with an illegal industry.

“If we legalise it, we can add it into the open economy, we can regulate it, we can tax it a little bit, and it will be safer for everyone.”