In 2004, Marijuana was decriminalised in both ACT and WA, since then both have gone in very different directions. Canberra and the ACT have recently legalised Marijuana use (possession of up to 50 grams and the growth of 2 plants), whereas, WA have gone down a completely different direction.
In 2011, a part of the Colin Barnett Liberal government 'tough on crime' approach the possession of marijuana was nullified meaning that it was now illegal and if a Police officer was to find you in possession of the illicit drug, it would be put on your criminal record. However, it is safe to say that Colin Barnett's approach to drug use has not worked as Western Australia is still considered the drug capital of Australia and some could argue, The World. This proven by the fact that Western Australians are twice as more likely to have used any form of methamphetamine (ice) in the last 12 months than any other state or territory in Australia (according to Crime Stoppers WA).
In the 1980s, Portugal had a similar problem to that of Western Australia, being that their population had a high rate of drug users. Álvaro Pereira, a family doctor in South Portugal recalls how bad Portugal’s drug problem was. "people were injecting in the street, in public squares, in gardens. At that time, not a day passed when there wasn’t a robbery at a local business, or a mugging.” The amount of drug users was absurd, and it wasn’t biased towards one certain age group. This drug problem lasted two roughly two decades until, in 2000, the current prime minister Antonio de Oliveira Guterres decided to do something very radical. He decided to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit drugs, and this came into effect in July 2001. Since then the number of HIV/AIDS cases has fallen from 104.2 per million (in 2000) to 4.2 cases per million (in 2015). The country had a massive shift on its culture towards drugs and addiction and gained a new perspective. This perspective was that a homeless drug addict needs to be rehabilitated and not punished; if he were to be caught in possession of an illicit drug, in the 1990s, it would only add to his problems, whereas, after 2001, he would not be punished and instead encouraged to receive medical attention and rehabilitation.
Then again, I’m not suggesting for Western Australia to have such a sudden shift and decriminalise every drug. It is time that Western Australia revoke their ‘tough on crime’ approach and allow for a more modern shift in culture and realise that the negative effects that people discuss aren’t there.
If you would like a more in depth analysis on recreational marijuana use I suggest watching this short yet informative Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP15q815Saw&fbclid=IwAR3-9eRM2kRXlGKO_-eYGpAyDeerXQw3_0hEp6ljt3tXZMApdqrOWxIc9QM