Measuring the size of Australia’s illegal cannabis market, and what we could gain from legalisation

13 May 2024

Christiern Rose ( The University of Queensland) and (The University of Melbourne) write for The Conversation.

At the end of this month, a senate inquiry by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee is due to hand down its report on a bill to legalise cannabis.

Marijuana crop growing in a room.

Legalisation aims to redirect profits away from organised crime, safeguard people aged under 18, and protect public health through strict safety and quality regulations. To achieve these goals, the newly legalised market would need to draw current cannabis consumers – particularly those who use large amounts – away from the illegal market and its established network of suppliers.

A legal market can also be taxed, and the revenues generated could help fund much-needed public spending – for example, on mental health and substance use treatment services. Australia’s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimates a legalised market would deliver a $28 billion windfall for the public purse in the first decade.

But we think the PBO’s estimate is too high, and based on the current patterns of cannabis use, $13 billion is a more credible estimate.

So how do we know how big the cannabis market is, and how much revenue it could deliver?

Read the full article at The Conversation