This week I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Dr Nicole Lee. Dr Lee is an expert in alcohol and other drug treatment and policy. She is Director at Australia’s leading alcohol and other drug specialist consultancy, 360Edge, and Professor at the National Drug Research Institute. She currently serves on the Australian National Advisory Council on Alcohol and other Drugs. She has published more than 100 journal articles, guidelines, chapters and books on alcohol and other drug treatment, and is a regular contributor to The Conversation.

Dr Lee has over 20 years experience in the both the treatment and policy space of drugs and shares with us where the status and conversation is globally around decriminalisation and regulation of drugs. When having our discussion it was interesting to talk about how strong the moral position has been driving policy in Australia – and we all know now the War on Drugs has been a monumental failure.

We talk about what the future holds, and the pros and cons for decriminalisation, and Dr Lee runs through a process she believes will be the mechanism for change. Test cases. A solid way forward, and one where data is fully available.

Famous stock analyst, author and podcaster, James Altucher, recently talked about where the new millionaires come from – in context several year’s ago he predicted a wave of crypto millionaires and he was bang on…

Now Altucher predicts the NEXT round of millionaires – and says they will be cannabis millionaires. He sites a Canadian businessman who’s amassed a $115 million portfolio of pot stocks and another a New York asset manager who’s snapped up pot stocks and ballooned the fund he runs to $830 million. Don’t forget of course about PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel, with undisclosed millions invested in pot-based Privateer Holdings…

There are so many reasons drugs, particularly cannabis, should become legal. Certainly in Australia, where I watch the debate with interest, the first stage should be decriminalisation in all states to free up the criminal justice system at the very least.

What’s not discussed enough is the next stage – legalisation. The economic opportunity for growth, a greener economy and one that is creating a sustainable revenue stream for governments and business’ globally is enormous. The data also points towards the use of it providing greater health benefits than current pharmaceutical drugs for people suffering from various mental health disorders and other serious health issues which have driven the medical marijuana debate in Australia.

Having written about the advantages of decriminalisation and legalisation of hemp and cannabis for medicinal, sustainability and economic reasons more than 20 years ago – I was perhaps more passionate than in other podcast conversations recently. What’s crystal clear is the data tells the story – and one would hope we strive for a data driven policies, that are apolitical, for a smarter more compassionate society. It’s a more human approach, and one would hope policies are framed with the context of being human as its north star.

Lots of ideas to ponder. It was interesting to hear that Dr Lee has been encouraged and somewhat surprised at the speed the conversation is changing around the issue of drug legalisation in Australia and globally, so I’m keen to have her back on in a year to assess how far we’ve got, hoping our strong relationships with Canada, the US and New Zealand will have provided the guidance our partisan politicians need.

Hope you enjoy the episode!

Show Notes

David Caldacott
Matt Noffs
Dr Alex Wodak
Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
The Australian Greens
Senator Di Natale
Groovin in the Moo
Monica Barrett
Dr Nicole Lee
360 Edge