Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:35:45) — My adjournment matter is for the Attorney-General. We saw in a Herald Sun front page this week an estimate that the trade in illegal cannabis in Victoria has now topped $8 billion a year. While we are spending millions of dollars on policing this, the criminals are making billions in profits. I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations on this. If we were to legalise and regulate the sale of cannabis and tax it at 30 per cent, that would be $2.4 billion that could be invested in schools, roads, hospitals and public transport, but more importantly it would be $8 billion removed from the criminal market. Much of that money is used by these criminals in further crimes, and some of it, we know, is being siphoned off internationally into terrorist activities. It would also reduce the absolute level of crime in our community. Again, according to the back of the envelope, it is around a 15 per cent reduction, providing much-needed relief to our strained criminal justice system.
We have seen that California, the fifth largest economy, on 1 January went down this path. It is a complete paradigm shift, and they are expected to generate hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in state taxes and smash crime syndicates. Canada will go onto this system on 1 July. They expect to completely eradicate the black market sale of and criminal profiteering on cannabis through taxation and government regulation. So we are not Robinson Crusoe here. It is not a radical approach. It has been done in other jurisdictions around the world. Accordingly, the action I am seeking from the Attorney-General is for him to commission an economic assessment of the cost of criminalising cannabis and the savings that could be realised by legalising it.
The PRESIDENT — I assume that your action is the cost of decriminalising?
Ms PATTEN — I will just repeat that: the action I am seeking is for the Attorney-General to commission an economic assessment to look at how much the current criminalisation of cannabis costs us and the savings that could be realised if we legalised it.