Legalise Cannabis Makes United Push For Personal Marijuana Use In Three Australian States

Date: 21 June 2023

Legalise Cannabis Makes United Push For Personal Marijuana Use In Three Australian States

Cannabis Legalization Push In Australian States

The party’s bill allowing adults to possess and grow small quantities of the drug at home will be introduced across Victoria, NSW, and WA.

Legalise Cannabis MPs are launching a coordinated push to make marijuana legal for personal use in three states and overhaul what the party says is outdated legislation that unnecessarily criminalises people.

The party’s drug reform bill will be introduced on Tuesday in state parliaments in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia – the jurisdictions where it has representation in the state’s upper houses.

Legalise Cannabis says it is the first time the same bill has been introduced across three states on the same day. The reform, which would allow adults to possess and grow small quantities of cannabis at home, is similar to ACT’s model that came into effect in 2020.

Rachel Payne, a Victorian Legalise Cannabis MP, said the bill encouraged state governments to be on the “the right side of history when it comes to cannabis law reform”.

She said longstanding prohibition meant Australians were criminalised for consuming cannabis, which was particularly prevalent among First Nations people, who are over-represented in the criminal justice system.

“These laws are currently causing real harm and we should as a society come together to prevent any further harm,” she said.

The Legalise Cannabis NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham said the party wanted consistency on cannabis across Australia to ensure there was a national debate about responsible use of the drug.

“At the moment each state has a set of laws that are being deregulated – that’s the trajectory of cannabis law reform. But in a very ad hoc way,” he said.

Buckingham said he believed cannabis law reform was inevitable in NSW. He pointed to previous commentary by the NSW premier, Chris Minns, who while in opposition argued for the legalisation of cannabis in 2019. Minns ruled out decriminalisation in the lead-up to the March state election.

Payne, Buckingham and Legalise Cannabis WA MP Dr Brian Walker will introduce the bill in their respective parliaments on Tuesday.

The party calls for states to amend existing legislation to make it legal for adults to possess small quantities of cannabis for personal use and cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants for personal use.

Titled “Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis Bill 2023”, the bill would also allow an adult who is lawfully in possession of cannabis to gift the drug to another adult. It would not allow people aged under 18 to access the drug and would make no changes to the offence of selling cannabis.

The reform is similar to the ACT’s reforms that came into effect in 2020. Under the territory’s legislation, an adult can lawfully possess up to 50g of dried cannabis or up to 150g of fresh cannabis, grow up to two cannabis plants per person (a maximum of four plants per household) and use cannabis in a household.

Payne pointed to a recent study that concluded there was no evidence that cannabis use had a significant effect on the incidence of psychosis for people at high risk of it.

The authors of that report, published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience journal, noted their findings were not consistent with epidemiological data linking cannabis use to an increased risk of developing psychosis.

The researchers said they could not exclude the possibility that an association between cannabis use and transition to psychosis might have been evident if the follow-up period had been longer than two years. But they said most transitions to psychosis occurred within the two-year timeframe.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has previously said he has no plans to legalise marijuana beyond medical use, saying drug-induced psychosis was a “significant” issue for some in the community.