Three States in Australia Push for Adult-Use Cannabis

MPs in Victoria, NSW, and Western Australia introduced a bill that would legalize cannabis for adults.
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Leaders in three state parliaments in Australia—Victoria, NSW, and Western Australia—introduced draft laws simultaneously on June 20 to push for adult-use cannabis. 

Cannabis remains illegal under federal law in Australia, though a growing number of city and state governments have legalized recreational cannabis use, thus creating a checkerboard of cannabis laws. Sound familiar to what is seen in the U.S.?

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne, Legalise Cannabis NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham, and Legalise Cannabis WA MP Dr Brian Walker introduced the three-pronged bill in their respective parliaments, which would end cannabis prohibition in those states.

The “Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis Bill 2023” would allow adults who are lawfully in possession of cannabis to gift it to another adult in those jurisdictions. It would only allow people 18 and older to access it and would make no changes to the crime of selling cannabis.

The proposed legislation would allow adults to possess and grow small quantities of cannabis at home, and it is similar to Australian Capital Territory (ACT)’s bill that came into effect in 2020.

Landmark measures were passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly, clearing the way for individuals aged 18 and over to possess and grow cannabis beginning on Jan. 31, 2020. ACT was the first state or territory in the country to legalize cannabis for adult use. Others followed.

Legalise Cannabis Australia was formerly the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party. Its policies focus around the re-legalization of cannabis for personal, medicinal, and industrial uses in Australia.

Legalise Cannabis MPs React

Several Legalise Cannabis MPs applauded the announcement of the bill and said they are simply doing what their constituents want.

Victorian Legalise Cannabis MP David Ettershank told ABC Radio Melbourne the people in Australia agree the time is now to reform cannabis laws. “The majority of Victorians support the regulation of cannabis, and a huge number of Victorians … regularly consume cannabis,” he said.

Legalise Cannabis Party NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham, who is a former Greens MP, said it was the nation’s first coordinated attempt to legalize cannabis.

“The Bill … will allow households to grow up to six plants, for that cannabis to be (gifted and) shared, and for the trade in seeds,” Buckingham said

“We already have the Greens and Liberal Democrats supporting our move … and now it’s time for Labor to move in WA, Victoria, NSW and nationally,” he said.

The Guardian reports that it’s the first united push between the three state governments.

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

What Adult Use Cannabis Could Bring to Australia

Legalizing marijuana could be a major economic boon in Australia.

Western Australia in particular could be reaping the benefits of legal cannabis sales, according to a new study.

ABC Radio Perth reports that the study, from researchers associated with the University of Western Australia, found that cannabis legalization could bring $243.5 million per year in the first five years to Western Australia. 

For the time being, cannabis remains illegal in Australia, with penalties varying from state to state. In Western Australia, according to the Guardian, “[f]ines range from $2,000 to $20,000 and up to two years in prison,” but for “possession up to 10g police [law enforcement] can use discretion to order the person to a counselling session (one for adults, two for children).”

The new law being presented in three additional states could help to change that.

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