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Bills to legalise personal cannabis use introduced in three states

Legalise Cannabis party in three-state push for law changes

Bills to legalise the personal use of cannabis will be simultaneously introduced in three Australian state parliaments under a staggered plan for widespread reform.

The Legalise Cannabis Party will on Tuesday introduce legislation into the upper houses of the NSW, Victorian and Western Australian parliaments to legalise the personal use and possession of cannabis for adults.

Legalise Cannabis NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham said it was the first time in Australian legislative history the same bill would be introduced in three state parliaments on the same day.

“It’s time to take cannabis supply and quality control out of the hands of organised crime and make the needs of the community, patients and consumers a priority,” he said.

The legislation would make it legal for adults to possess up to 50 grams of cannabis and for a household to grow up to six plants.

Adults could gift plants and small quantities of cannabis, but it would remain illegal to buy or sell.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he had no plans to go down that path, while nor did the WA Labor government.

“My position is the law as it stands now,” Mr Andrews said in Melbourne.

NSW Labor declined to comment on the bill and said the government would host a drug and alcohol summit before the next election, due in 2027.

“The government will listen to the experts and take a whole-of-government approach to minimising alcohol and other drug harms,” a government spokesperson said.

Mr Buckingham described the quantities being proposed in the bills as “modest” and urged state and federal Labor to back the changes.

Both the Greens and Liberal Democrats broadly support legalising the personal use of cannabis.

A spokeswoman for Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP Rachel Payne said the party was formulating a three-stage plan. Its second step would include extending rights for consumers with the development of “co-operatives” and expunging historical personal use convictions.

Ultimately the party was aiming to have growers, producers and retailers licensed, with product safety and cannabinoid profiles verified by a state regulator.

Mr Buckingham said prohibition had failed, cost taxpayers billions of dollars and clogged courts.

“It’s now time for sensible and responsible cannabis law reform, which the majority of Australians now support,” he said.

The proposed changes would not allow people under 18 access to cannabis, or allow people to drive while impaired by cannabis.

The legislation is unlikely to be debated until later in the year.

In 2020 the ACT became the only jurisdiction to decriminalise the personal use of cannabis, allowing adults to grow up to two cannabis plants per person and four per household.

The ACT legislation is the model for the changes being proposed.

Since 2010, more than 700,000 arrests have been made in Australia for cannabis-related offences, 90 per cent of which were for minor possession or consumption charges.

The cannabis black market is estimated by police to generate $8 billion a year for organised crime groups.

Ms Payne said cannabis laws disproportionately criminalised young people, Indigenous people and culturally diverse communities.

“These laws currently cause real harm to marginalised groups, and we should as a society come together to do something about it,” she said.

“It’s time our governments reformed outdated laws, in line with community expectations.”

In 2019, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey found more people supported the legalisation of cannabis than opposed it, with 41 per cent in favour, compared with 37 per cent against.

– AAP

Topics: Cannabis
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