Cannabis use is a victimless crime that should be legalised

Much to the pleasure of potheads throughout Australia, medical marijuana was legalised after changes to the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 came into effect allowing businesses to apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis or manufacture cannabis products for medicinal purposes, or to conduct related research. While this is no doubt good news, and a step in the right direction, the supposed medical benefits or consequences of cannabis usage are irrelevant as to whether its usage should be a criminal offence. Smoking cannabis is a victimless crime that should be legal because consenting adults should have the freedom to make their own life choices.

There are many arguments for the legalisation of cannabis that include but not limited to: it would significantly weaken organised crime; it would raise much needed revenue for the government; potheads are more mellow than drunks. But, to argue any of those points would be missing the greater point: what you choose to do with your own body is no one else’s business. Cannabis use and drug use more generally are victimless crimes and therefore shouldn’t be crimes at all.

John Stuart Mill in Chapter IV of his book, ‘On Liberty’ established what we now know as the harm-principle. He articulated this principle arguing that, “The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” If this principle was applied to drugs laws at the very least drug use would not  be a criminal offence. Poor life decisions do not cause harm to others. To the extent that poor life decisions may harm others, for example, one’s family disapproving of those choices, any harm from those choices mostly affect the individual involved.

Another argument made, by some, in support of cannabis’s criminalisation is that the negative health side affects hurt society by burdening the public health sector. They would argue that some people who abuse cannabis end up requiring the help of mental health facilities and require the support of the social welfare system. Similar arguments are made against smoking, consuming sugar and other things the nanny-state don’t approve. I would argue that these reasons are insufficient to justify criminalisation. The primary risk is taken by the individual involved and many people do successful use cannabis without burdening society.

If cannabis was legalised and taxed the same as any other good, than the revenue raised would exceed any cost to society. I would also argue in the case of smoking, that these arguments don’t justify the enormous amount of taxation raised by the state, that far exceed any cost imposed on the health care system. While it might be reasonable to use taxes to cover any external costs of poor decisions, it’s unreasonable to use them as punishments for people making poor life choices.

Alternatively, the cost to individuals who do use cannabis when it’s criminalised are very significant. They risk gaining a criminal record, potentially serving gaol time and are given no choice to engage in a criminal act if they choose to use cannabis.

The cost to society is also significant. Firstly, by criminalising cannabis, society is by definition less free. Members of the society are denied the freedom to make a rational decision for themselves about the costs and benefits of cannabis use. In a free society, people should be free to make their own decisions. We should always be very cautious in our decision to limit the choices of other people. When we restrict the ability of people to make their own choices, we are by definition less free.

Secondly, policing victimless crimes comes at enormous financial and opportunity cost to society. There is only so much money society is willing to spend on policing and by policing victimless crimes there is an opportunity cost of policing crimes that are harmful to society and other individuals. According to Drug Law Reform Australia, $1.7 billion is spent annually on drug law enforcement of which 70% is attributed to cannabis. This comes at a huge opportunity cost to members of society, this money could be used to lower taxes or protecting people from crimes that have actual victims such as theft and murder. Since resources are scarce, it’s literally fair to say that the policing of victimless crimes makes society less free and less safe.

Criminal acts are acts that harm other people, by definition such acts should have victims. Cannabis use doesn’t have victims, it only has consenting adults, who make their own life choices. Cannabis use therefore shouldn’t be a crime and should be legalised.

Justin Campbell
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157 Comments on "Cannabis use is a victimless crime that should be legalised"

  1. Pharmacists supply drugs ,,, make an appointment with you “GP”

  2. Are you kidding me

  3. The only problem I have with your article is the use of the term “potheads”. Serious articles on alcohol don’t use the terms, alky or wino or boozer…cannabis user makes the same point without the stigma that follows on from pothead…

  4. Who are you crackheads putting crap on my feed, why do you want to deny comfort to the suffering?

  5. Legalize, manufacture and tax all drugs. That way you cut out the criminal element. People know what they are getting – hospitals could treat bad reactions more reliably because they would know what chemicals are present. The drugs would be sold at pharmacies, with warning labels and identity checks made to ensure it is only sold to over 18’s.

  6. If made legal cig companies will produce it and their will be less crime and less people in jail using up our money and resources and no I have never used it and never will and even if legal I do not think many extra people will bother with it.

  7. Yes keep it banned, an accepted drug culture in the community will create a nation of dim wits like Somalia, whose only contribution to the world is pirates, poverty, unemployed refugees and chaos.

  8. And they should be free so dopes like you can get dopier

  9. Personal experience. This crap ruines lives and breaks up familys . more so than alcohol. Also a stepping stone for hard drugs.

    • bullshit. Weed doesnt break up families. Its idiots who abuse drugs and alcohol who break up families. Alcohol is by far more dangerous than cannabis. Its also been proven that cannabis is not a “gateway” to hard drugs. If your family broke up, you need to look at your own behaviour instead of just blaming cannabis.

  10. It wasnt my behaviour. It was the person who was using drugs behaviour. thanks for the advice .

  11. tell that to the families whose pot smoking relative became psychotic over night from smoking pot or the people who have been killed on the roads by a pot smoking truck driver.

    • Are you suggesting that alcohol use intrinsically involves a victim, simply because drunk drivers have killed people?

    • Hahahahaha @ wendy

    • Wendy has no doubt been watching Reefer Madness.

    • it is the same principle. Don’t laugh Daniel it just shows your ignorance. Now pot when used correctly as it was meant to be used is one of the greatest healers known to man and has many more properties that are not only useful but are great for the environment. It is the smoking of it that causes the damage to the minds and health of the people who smoke it. Just as grape juice is a really great drink but when you start to make wine, as we know it today, and put in all the additives you have created a poison that is killing our people.

    • NO-ONE becomes psychotic ‘overnight’ from cannabis, if at all (and that’s VERY debatable). And nor do cannabis-using drivers kill. tha’t drink-drivers and those on prescription drugs.

    • actually they do I have seen it first hand I have also had to deal with the outcome of drug users and seen then released from their addictions. So do not keep living in your delusion the thing about the change in your brain from drugs is that it leaves you in a euphoric state where you believe that you are smarter than the rest of us. But in fact you have become insane. Your brain does heal but the cost to all those around you who see and understand what the drugs have done to you may never be able to be repaired.

    • truck drivers killing people from smoking pot lol. you are delusional.

    • no I know a lot of them through people who got trapped into relationships with them. They transport drugs from SA to Vic and NSW and when they are driving they are on a cocktail of drugs including alcohol. So I know this as fact. I do not make a comment unless I know it is fact.

    • sorry thats bullshit

    • no one like church people here so go preach another place

    • haha do hear people who are not there wendy go seek mental health doctor tell them u talk to god they lock you up.hearing voices in you head,grow up

  12. Every time I see or hear that peurile little quote, I feel like bitch-slapping the person responsible into the nearest wall. Trite, stupid and wrong.

  13. Why will nobody ever want to admit the FACTS ? Pot CAN cause lung cancer – and CAN cause anxiety or depression in SOME people. End of debate ? Its just not for everyone, like booze, like amphetamines, barbiturates, opiates etc. It is how we are genetically pre disposed to react differently to different substances, but you get the ‘hoo ha ha ‘ pro dope extremists and everybody falls into ‘red eyed’ confusion ?

  14. Even when a Zeffed-Up Lunatic Driver KILLS Your Child/Family when Out-of-Control on a Public Road ? Of Course there ARE Benefits – Conversion of Users Lungs to ‘La Dikwa’ Granite and the $aving on a Tombstone !

    • You’ve no idea what you’re talking about. It doesn’t turn users lungs into granite, it actually impedes cancer cell growth in lungs. In clinical tests in the US, the NTSB has found that cannabis use does not increase risk of accidents or traffic mishaps, Infact the opposite occurs. You should stop trolling, it makes you look foolish.

  15. Dope pushers and marijuanna heads need to be JAILED and SHOT.

    • Looks like you had an empty life. Maybe alcohol has eaten your brain.

    • Ben, you want to tell others what they can put into their own bodies and if they don’t agree you want to be able to take their lives from them? Really?

    • Liberty works. What others put into their own bodies is fine but when ot causes them to interfere in other peoples lives, as it most certainly does, it is not fine and only a stupid Drug Addict would think otherwise.

    • Cannabis inhibits cancer, obesity, anorexia, epilepsy, PTSD, glaucoma, heart disease and a hots of other diseases that impact the human body. People who use cannabis are not drug addicts. You need to go research before placing your foot squarely in your mouth.

    • So no one who smokes dope has ever had any of the above? I think you may be one of them.

    • Ben Frayle how do you breathe with your head up your arse?

    • Sad when dope fiends try to debate.

    • Marijuana is like all other drugs. It had positive attributes and negative. It may have the ability to help with disease, but it also leads to psychosis in a small subset of users. I feel all drugs should be legal. An adult can make the decision if they want to use it or not, just as long as they know the risks.

  16. all you sheep have drank alchool well it kills more people than all illegal drugs put together .

  17. Yep thats what I say to prescription drug pushers who legally make a salary by providing drugs that are killing people. The Big M kills no one

  18. Smoking cannabis is the same as smoking coffee, friggin stupid.
    Use it in medicinal purposes like the oil is ok.

  19. I have a friend who smoked heaps of dope and now is hopelessly skitsophrentic in his 40s and cant keep a job or a relationship together. Dope is banned for good reason. It makes people useless.

  20. Weed fries your brain and u become a slow moving dope

  21. Sorry liberty works. You’ve lost me on this one! Drugs are bad, period.

  22. Cannabis is not a victimless crime as it does lead to car accidents including fatal ones. It can also be addictive and lead to more serious drug use that can turn the user to crime to pay for the habit.

  23. They have a spit-swab test for cannabis now. It can be enforced just like alcohol. I don’t use cannabis, I never will, but seriously, it is not worth wasting police time, court process, or gaol space over. Just let the poor bloody pot-heads be, and stop insisting people with cancer and chronic illness can’t grow their own painkillers.

    Do I have to say I have literally never ingested a single picogram of cannabinoid? That I don’t smoke and drink approximately one standard per month?

  24. Going on that theory, speeding tickets should be abolished too!

  25. It’s obvious. There will always be that case that people refer to , and won’t move on. Just stubborn. It’s proven I don’t care what anyone says, it’s benifits far far far outweigh the downside. All that pharmaceutical shit they ram down peoples throats is much worse. Put a label on it for Gods saying may cause dizziness ect ect and legalise it. The benifits to the economy are helping balancing the budget. Get alcohol of the streets b4 weed. A far more dangerous drug sold to 18 year olds. Hypercritical bull plop. The first of the major parties to do will win the election on that policy. Wake up it’s so yesterday

  26. It is legal to use now

  27. Darryl jones how many people have died on proscription meds now tell me how many have died on weed

  28. Tell that to the people that have permanent psychosis from it and their family’s.

    • Michael Rielly weak response. psychosis puts a huge burden on family, friends, if public health care is involved, the tax payer as well.

    • as well as the individual, lost potential, lost friends and family… and so on

    • Okay, cannabis does not cause psychosis. Schizophrenia is inherited, as in bipolar. They are mental illnesses that are genetic disorders. Cannabis use has brought to the fore those inherent disorders, that may have been thought of as the persons usual behaviour, but can now be treated. Stop spouting crap, go do research, it’s out there.

    • A friend of mine is a psychiatric nurse. From what he tells you are only partially correct. In mosr cases there is a predisposition for mental health. However it would probably of never manifested if the person did not start using cannibis as an illicit drug. Others have got stoned and never come down.

    • Bullshit mate full on bullshit its substance abuse if you abuse something your going to have a problem its that simple

  29. Sorry but I have never seen any of the supposed benefits people keep on about, but boy have I seen the opposing side. Victimless??? Have a look,at the families trying to deal with family members who use it.

  30. So much BS from people who have “friends who smoke weed” and the side effects. I have never come across anybody with any side effects, other than a hang over, I’ve been a smoker for 40 years, I hold down a job and pay my taxes and rarely need to go to the doctors. I’ve never seen anybody become violent or abussive from it, and I’ve travelled to many different countries around the world. Prescription drugs are far worse and only support multinational drug companies, white collar thieves. Do your research and see why weed became illegal people! It was because of the discovery of Rayon by DuPont industries and that the silica from the stem of the dope plant produces a plastic that was cheaper and in direct competition to DuPont. So there was a massive scare campaign. So before you comment watch the doco on YouTube narrated by Jack Thompson. As for the side affects of phychosis etc. that observation seems to come from people who “know somebody” and have never smoked themselves. Like I said I’ve smoked for 40 years and I’ve never suffered anything but a hang over from it. So unless you have smoked for any length of time then you obviously have no idea what your talking about. And if it was so bad why is it becoming legal for medical conditions, If it has such bad side effects? It’s all to do with medical companies and money. Watch the doco.

  31. It’s just not a crime. Good example of the law being a complete and total arse. “Laws are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise”

  32. So true it’s only a plant.

  33. god made it do u trust god

  34. good for depression good for sleep

  35. have when get depression

  36. Who or what is MMMKay”?

  37. Try holding down a job after a few months of the weedLOL

  38. Fact is Weed smokers are STONERS – it aint called DOPE for nothing!

    Paraniod Schizo attacks rise enormously with weed use…

    Woman in the U.S recently microwaved her baby on weed!

    • Because Alcohol doesn’t make people kill themselves and others right? Alcohol doesn’t become addictive and ruin lives right?

      People are free to choose to do or not do whatever they want that’s sort of the whole “Libertarian” thing. I personally wouldn’t use pot since I’m perfectly capable of lying around doing nothing all day eating chips anyway but if someone else wants to, what right do I have to stop them?

      If something being harmful is a reason to ban it get ready to live in a prison cell being fed by the Government since everything we do in life is harmful and has risks.

    • Dylan, this thread is NOT about Alcohol – those dangers are well known and accepted.

      Weed IS a dangerous drug, but its protagonists want all to believe its ALL good. Its not and there are very real dangers.

      I would think all that was self-evident or are you too busy smoking DOPE?

    • So i agree Dylan Asmus we should ban alcohol also doesn’t make pot a good thing tho

    • Dylan cannot substantiate his argument so shifts the goalposts/changes the subject point.

      Weed IS very beneficial in some ways, but it also does have serious dangers.

  39. weed is a present from nature .

  40. When are you morons going to stop your ridiculous claim that it’s a victimless crime.

  41. Yeah, imagine if you were a 1 year old infant and your parents would rather get stoned than take care of you.

  42. One of my neighbours would regularly smoke pot on his balcony and it would stink up the whole street. I would have to keep my north-facing windows shut in order to keep out the stench.

  43. Cannabis, like alcohol actually retards brain development, especially in adolescents. So it’s not really victimless is it.

  44. Then get in a car and kill someone , F wits

  45. Dopes in glasshouses that’s how Liberty Works Brain dead in a pot

  46. It treats psychosis as well i dont see the problem with it and the only time you see someone going mental its usually because they runnen low or have nothing at alll

  47. I think u runnen low on brain matter Jarrah Pallister

  48. Ask the people who have been killed by someone who drove under the influence of cannabis.

  49. The victim is the cannabis user
    This misinformation around weed is harmful
    It isn’t harmless
    It can cause severe mental illness
    It doesn’t cure cancer
    And smoking marijuana crudely is bad for you

  50. Cannabis use is anything but a victimless crime, only a f&@king idiot would think otherwise

    • So scientists and doctors are idiots and you are so right

    • Janet Peers This article isn’t advocating use of cannabis for medicinal purposes – it’s arguing to decriminalize social use.

    • Janet Peers well some scientists and Doctors obviously are idiots aren’t they if they think that using cannabis long term isn’t going to fry brain cells, but judging by your comment , it may be too late already for you

    • Man made chemicals are the main reason for our problems, we rely on lying cheating pollies to keep the sheep happy, thats why we have ignorance/arrogance on such issues. Bet you don’t know anything about the gland in every human brain, before people speak they ought to get ‘ALL’ the facts.

  51. Its like most things ,(drinking) depends on the person I do believe it will solve more problems by legalizingit .hopefully effects those making the money and put more effort to stop the heavy drugs that are out there

  52. Nothing wrong with the occasional hit, in the right circumstances. But like every other drug, any addiction is not good.

  53. weed is the opiate of the masses

  54. weed is the opiate of the masses

  55. Alcohol is a million times worse for ur over all health but it’s still legal, weed isn’t illegal is because the pharmaceutical companies will lose trillions of dollars

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