When there is a demand for a product which the government refuses to regulate themselves, outlaws will step up and create their own market. And that’s exactly what happened when the Australian government decided to throw cannabis, along with a number of other substances, into prohibition.
Cannabis is Australia’s highest consumed illicit substance, with around 12% or 3 million people consuming it every year – three times more than the next substance on the list, cocaine. The industry value of cannabis in Australia easily makes it into the billions, and we know all that cash isn’t going to the government, leaving only one place it to end up – in the hands of criminals.
While various criminal gangs in Australia have been around since the colonial era such as the ‘Forty Thieves from Surry Hills’ and the ‘Gibb Street Mob’, outlaw bikie gangs only started to rise up in the mid-20th century. Coincidentally, right around the time when many of the Australian states started to outlaw cannabis as well.
And despite millions, possibly billions, of taxpayers money being poured into anti-cannabis propaganda such as the USA’s infamous ‘Reefer Madness’ campaign in the early 20th century, and more recently in 2015, the NSW government’s laughable series of ‘Stoner Sloth’ productions, cannabis consumption continues to increase not only in Australia but across the globe as well.
All of these campaigns have spectacularly failed and demand for cannabis continues to rise, leading to not only local gangs cashing in on the action, but far-reaching international criminal networks as well. Proceeds from the sales of drugs are without a doubt, the number one source of funding for these organisations. Regulating and creating a legal market for these drugs would crush the influence and power these criminal networks have.
The AFP’s anti-gangs squad commander Andrew Donoghoe agrees:
They are purely an organised crime network that is there to make money, generally off drug dealing, sometimes off intimidation and acts of violence and with no remorse for anyone, including innocent members of the community being hurt or killed in the process.
So why do the Australian police continue to spend billions of taxpayers dollars every year taking down cannabis farms, when another one is already being set up just down the road, or in a house next door to you.
Every year, every month, and every day that cannabis remains in prohibition, is another day outlaw bikie gangs and other criminal networks grow stronger. The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey even reported for the first time that more Australians want a completely legal (medical and recreational) cannabis market than not.
Countries and regions around the world are falling like dominos to legalise cannabis. They’re facing the fact that the billion-dollar market sitting right in their backyard isn’t going to disappear by sending in the troops, and they’re finally taking a different course of action on it. Yet most of those in power in Australia seem to be too busy to care.
Hopefully, with the likes of more Legalise Cannabis parties making it into parliament, change will come sooner rather than later.
As many say, it’s not if, but when.