After action by lawmakers in Australia, this country might be the next to pass major marijuana law reforms. Members of Parliament from Victoria called for an end to cannabis prohibition in their state.
The MPs are following the lead of a parliamentary committee known as the Inquiry Into Drug Law Reform. The group said that more needs to be done after studying the subject of legalizing marijuana.
“The committee found this is an area of drug law reform worthy of further investigation,” their report said, according to the Daily Mail.
Cannabis Is Illegal Nationwide
All states and territories in Australia maintain cannabis prohibitions. Growing or possessing marijuana is illegal across the nation. However, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory have both decriminalized possession. In those areas, those caught with small quantities of pot are not subject to criminal penalties. Instead, fines are levied for possession.
Other states first try warnings and rehab with low-level drug offenders. Prosecutors file criminal charges if those measures fail.
Geoff Howard is a state MP from the Labor Party and chairperson of the committee. He said that it was time for a new approach to drug policy in Australia.
“Historically, the approach to drugs both internationally and in Australia was based on prohibition of recreational drug use,’ he said.
“There is growing recognition that a dominant focus on law enforcement strategies has not eradicated the supply or demand for such substances, but has contributed to increased harms such as overdoses and black market crime.”
Lawmakers Visited Legal States In The U.S.
During their investigation, the eight members of the parliamentary committee visited U.S. states that have legalized cannabis. The group traveled to Denver, Colorado and Sacramento, California to see first-hand the impact of a legal “non-medical” cannabis market.
Colorado voters legalized recreational cannabis in that state with the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. Legal retail sales began in 2014. Since that time, the number of teens in the state who admit recent marijuana use has fallen to its lowest level in more than ten years. Detractors often use fears of increased use by youth as an argument against cannabis policy reform.
The State of California legalized cannabis, again at the ballot box, in 2016. The measure passed there, Prop 64, immediately eliminated sanctions against possession, adult use, and home cultivation of up to six plants. The state’s legal recreational marijuana economy began on January 1 of this year.
Already, however, some are calling for improvements to California’s cannabis regulatory framework. Delays in obtaining licenses, especially by growers, seem to be leading the state toward impending shortages of legal cannabis products. And some lawmakers are saying state taxes on marijuana are too high and should be reduced.
Final Hit: This Country Might Be The Next To Pass Major Marijuana Law Reforms
The Inquiry Into Drug Law Reform noted several ways that legalization of cannabis can be beneficial for Australia. First, the government could raise more money by imposing taxes on marijuana sold in the country.
Regulation could also make youth safer by limiting legal sales to adults and requiring child-proof packaging for cannabis products, they said.