Legalising recreational cannabis could generate A$28 billion in taxes over 10 years, according to a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) commissioned by the Greens.

The party’s policy platform includes legalising and regulating the production and sale of the plant through a Cannabis Australia National Agency (CANA).

Under the plans, CANA would oversee licensing and act as the single wholesaler of legally accessible cannabis.

Shoebridge: 28 billion reasons to legalise recreational use

The regulatory framework would permit adults aged 18-plus to grow up to six plants at home for personal use while licensed growers would be required to produce cannabis containing specific levels of THC and CBD. 

Specialist retail stores would be established that could sell cannabis in plain packaging, with visible health warnings, and staff would be required to attend responsible sale of cannabis courses.

While Dutch-style cafes would not be permitted, a two-year review would allow regulation to be tweaked or reformed. Advertising would not be permitted, and protecting young people would be a “key objective”.

When announcing the policy last year, the Greens stressed that raising revenue was not the driving force behind it, but sales would be subject to GST and federal excise that would help fund drug treatment, health education and harm reduction, particularly around mental health.

Now the PBO has put a price on the potential benefits.

Greens Senator and justice spokesperson David Shoebridge told “We know that legalising cannabis reduces harm by keeping people out of the criminal justice system, this report shows how it will also bring in tens of billions of dollars of public revenue as well.

“Legal cannabis makes enormous social and economic sense. When we legalise cannabis we take billions away from organised crime, police and the criminal justice system and we can then spend it on schools, housing, hospitals and social support.”

Shoebridge said the figures assumed 10% of cannabis sales would be to tourists, with the potential for that number to grow.

He added: “This green gold could become the life blood of many regional areas currently struggling for viable local industries.

“The community has been waiting decades for cannabis legalisation. It’s time for the parliament to catch up, and this report provides another 28 billion reasons to get on with it.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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