The Greens have introduced a bill to the federal parliament to legalise cannabis nationally, fulfilling a pledge the party made prior to last year’s election.

Under the plan, unveiled by Greens Senator David Shoebridge yesterday, adult recreational use would be permitted, paving the way for legal home grow of up to six plants and a commercial cannabis market across the country. 

He said: “With just a sprinkling of political courage and collaboration, mixed with a truckload of common sense, we can make this law and end the war on cannabis. 

“It’s time to stop pretending that consumption of this plant, consumed each year by literally millions of Australians, should still be seen as a crime. 

“Everyone knows that it is not a matter of if we legalise cannabis in Australia, it’s a matter of when, and today we’re taking a huge step forward. The Greens are here to get this done, and we’ll be working hard to get the numbers to make this law.”

Shoebridge cited a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office, commissioned by the Greens, which suggested legalising recreational use could generate A$28 billion in taxes over 10 years.

“It’s time to seize the many opportunities that legalisation poses. This is the chance for tens of thousands of quality green jobs, new small businesses, enriched regional economies and the boon for tourism that will come with establishing a totally new legal industry,” he said.

“It is the opportunity to regulate the quality, strength and safety of a product that millions of Australians are already using, and it’s the chance to radically reduce harm by stopping 80,000 Australians a year from being caught up in the criminal justice system for possession of cannabis.

“Using the collective wisdom of thousands of contributors who shared their knowledge and experience with us, we are introducing a solidly founded bill that maps out the way to legalise cannabis across Australia.”

The move was welcomed by the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

Spokesperson Greg Barns said criminalising cannabis has been a “monumental failure” that had not led to a decrease in use.

“Wasting court, police and lawyers’ time and resources with cannabis charges needs to end,” he said.

“Politicians who oppose this are sanctioning failed prohibition policies and continuing the scandalous waste of resources on law enforcement.

“The research in Australia shows that more and more people believe that using cannabis should not make you a criminal. Every year millions of dollars are spent on the pointless prosecution of drug users, clogging our court systems and resulting in people – especially young people – ending up with criminal records that last a lifetime. 

“Taxpayer funds are wasted prosecuting people who use cannabis, and police time is wasted charging them. We also know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, young people and homeless people are disproportionately affected by the current drug laws.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...

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