The Green Party has launched what it says is the first plan to legalise cannabis nationally.

After receiving advice from constitutional lawyers that the federal parliament has the power to make such a decision, Greens Senator David Shoebridge will formally move ahead with a draft bill.

The Government has previously insisted the legalisation of cannabis was a decision for the states and territories.

The party is currently working with stakeholders to draw up the private members’ bill.

David Shoebridge: let’s get it done

Consultations will take place to assess the number of plants for individuals to legally grow, legal sanctions for unlawful sale or distribution – including to minors – taxation measures, and where revenue raised from legal cannabis should be allocated.

It is expected that a public consultation will take place later this year.

Shoebridge said: “We’ve been told to wait for cannabis law reform for too long, even when it’s obvious that the majority of harm caused is by policing and the war on drugs, not the plant. 

“Experts and government inquiries keep pointing out how the war on drugs is failing and how heavy-handed policing and the criminal justice system are causing harm, not fixing the problem.

“People are looking for justice and legal cannabis delivers this. It’s plain wrong that young people are being dragged to court for what should be a personal choice about cannabis use.” 

He said it was “increasingly ridiculous” to pretend recreational cannabis is not enjoyed by “millions in Australia and around the world”. 

“At least 40% of Australians have used cannabis and any law that makes almost half of us criminals needs to go,” he said.

“While the US and Canada have thousands of cannabis entrepreneurs and a safer, more relaxed cannabis market, here we have sniffer dogs, random drug testing and long prison sentences. 

“At the last election thousands of you asked us to get this done, and this is the first step. 

“We’ll be moving ahead on these laws to make it possible for a person to grow a few plants for personal use, or buy a joint or a brownie from a licensed seller. It’s possible, achievable and we’re super ready to get it done.”

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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