21 June 2023
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel Payne MLC – South-Eastern Metropolitan Region
My adjournment matter is for Treasurer Pallas. A cornerstone of this year’s budget was fiscal recovery and the challenge of delivering a balanced budget following the difficulties of the COVID pandemic.
At a time when this government is looking for every conceivable way to implement budget savings, we would be remiss not to suggest that there is a place for cannabis in this discussion. Victoria spends millions of dollars every year criminalising cannabis. This is taxpayer money wasted imprisoning people and many other associated costs, including half a billion dollars on cannabis policing. At the same time, there is an immense social cost to this approach. We are arbitrarily limiting the opportunities in the life of Victorians to contribute to our economy by burdening them with criminal records – yet another waste.
When we criminalise cannabis, criminal organisations become best positioned to make millions of dollars in cultivation and sale of cannabis in Victoria. These funds are then funnelled into further criminal activity instead of being directed into the Victorian economy. The regulation of cannabis could save Victorians hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
It would create thousands of secure jobs, reduce unnecessary law enforcement costs, empower people with the tools to manage their health and generate greater investment opportunities. It all adds up. But so long as this government continues to allow cannabis to be criminalised in Victoria, we are missing an untapped opportunity to help stabilise our state’s budget. It is time to listen to the evidence, experts and community sentiment on this issue. So the action I seek is that the Treasurer weigh the potential financial benefit to our state budget’s bottom line if cannabis were to be regulated.
Received: 18 August 2023
Hon Jaclyn Symes MP
(Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services)
The state is always looking for ways to optimise its revenue streams and to target expenditure in the way that best benefits the Victorian community.
I look forward to continuing working with you to progress shared priorities, noting the Government has no plans to legalise recreational cannabis use at this time.