Members of Parliament (MPs) are launching a coordinated effort to legalize cannabis for personal use and reform outdated legislation that needlessly criminalizes individuals. The political party, Legalise Cannabis, plans to introduce a drug reform bill simultaneously in the state parliaments of Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia, where the party has representation in the upper houses.
This historic move marks the first time that the same bill will be introduced across three states on the same day. The proposed reform aligns with the model implemented in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 2020, allowing adults to possess and cultivate small quantities of cannabis for personal use at home.
Rachel Payne, an MP from Legalise Cannabis in Victoria, emphasized the importance of state governments being on the “right side of history” regarding cannabis law reform. She highlighted the harm caused by the existing prohibition, which disproportionately affects First Nations people and leads to their overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. Payne called for society to unite in preventing further harm.
Jeremy Buckingham, the Legalise Cannabis MP in New South Wales, emphasized the need for consistency across Australia regarding cannabis laws to facilitate a national discussion on responsible drug use. He acknowledged that cannabis law reform is an inevitable trajectory for New South Wales, referring to previous statements made by Chris Minns, the NSW premier, who advocated for cannabis legalization in 2019. However, Minns ruled out decriminalization prior to the March state election.
On Tuesday, the bill will be introduced in the respective parliaments of Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia by Rachel Payne, Jeremy Buckingham, and Dr. Brian Walker from Legalise Cannabis WA. The proposed legislation urges states to amend their current laws, making it legal for adults to possess limited amounts of cannabis for personal use and cultivate a maximum of six cannabis plants. The bill also allows adults lawfully in possession of cannabis to gift it to other adults, while maintaining the prohibition on selling cannabis. It does not permit individuals under 18 to access the drug.
The reform aligns closely with the ACT’s regulations implemented in 2020, allowing adults to possess up to 50g of dried cannabis or 150g of fresh cannabis, cultivate up to two plants per person (up to four per household), and consume cannabis within a private residence.
Rachel Payne referred to a recent study indicating that cannabis use does not significantly contribute to the incidence of psychosis in individuals at high risk. The study, published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience journal, contradicted epidemiological data that linked cannabis use to an increased risk of psychosis. While the researchers acknowledged that longer follow-up periods might reveal a possible association between cannabis use and transition to psychosis, they noted that most transitions occurred within a two-year timeframe.
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has previously stated that he has no intention of legalizing marijuana for non-medical use, citing drug-induced psychosis as a significant concern within the community.
Article first seen in The Guardian