The country’s marijuana laws have become a national embarrassment, with a report suggesting the Government is “losing their mind” over their “overwhelming failure”.
The Parliamentary Budget Office report released on Thursday said Australia was “lagging behind the rest of the developed world in terms of the availability of medical cannabis” and has seen a “huge increase” in the number of medicinal cannabis patients.
It said while “most countries have been taking a wait-and-see approach” and would “consider the results of the pilot project” in 2018, Australia has “a significant opportunity to be a global leader in medical cannabis”.
“Australia has a unique opportunity to become a leader in the international cannabis industry, and that opportunity is under threat,” the report said.
The study said Australia’s marijuana use had fallen by 20 per cent since 2012, from 2.8 million to 1.8.5 million users.
It noted that while “medical cannabis use is increasing rapidly across Australia” the Government’s policy has been to “pivot” away from marijuana, with the Opposition calling for the move to be reversed.
“The Government has taken steps to reverse the pivot and it has failed,” Ms Gillard said.
“If the Government does not reverse the move by the end of the year, it will be a big problem for Australia.”
Ms Gillard has been under pressure from a number of health groups to introduce new laws in the wake of a federal Court ruling last month that declared recreational marijuana is illegal under federal law.
The Government, meanwhile, has been pushing for the repeal of the medical marijuana laws, with Ms Gillards chief of staff Nick Greiner telling the ABC on Thursday that the Government would be “wasting a lot of money” on the law reform.
“There are lots of people that are sick that are using medical cannabis and we want to get rid of it.
If you look at how the Government has spent $5.7 billion on the drug over the past three years, that’s about $100 million per day,” Mr Greiner said.