The South Australia Greens have tabled a new cannabis bill in the Upper House with the aim of legalising recreational use in the state.  

SA Greens MLC Tammy Franks said the party aims to make cannabis legalisation a reality and “reimagine our state where those much-touted offerings include ‘fine food, wine and weed from our clean, green environment’.”

The bill would decriminalise adult use and possession of cannabis and establish a SA Cannabis Licensing Agency (SACLA) to regulate the market, minimise harm and ensure compliance with commercial licence conditions.

It would also allow for the non-commercial home growth of up to six cannabis plants, with more possible via application on compassionate, including medical, grounds. It would also start the process of expunging minor previous cannabis convictions. 

Franks said: “It’s high time South Australia had a conversation about cannabis. While jurisdictions all over the world roll back the failed prohibitions from last century, we are lagging behind.

“Our Crime and Public Integrity Committee has also recommended, in a report that will be tabled today (by Labor, Liberal, and SA-Best MPs), that an inquiry into cannabis use in our state be undertaken.”

The bill places a focus on safety, proposing that cannabis products be labelled with both health warnings and information about the strain and THC/CBD contents. Retailers would be banned from advertising and prohibited from operating within 200 metres of schools and childcare centres. 

South Australia Greens MLC Tammy Franks

Franks added: “When it comes to cannabis, the war on drugs is also often a war on sick people, disabled people and people desperate to get out of pain. The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

“By legalising cannabis – as has been done in other jurisdictions – we would regulate and tax cannabis use to reduce harm, increase protection for vulnerable people, and break the business model for organised crime.”

The proposed legislation would see increased tax revenue for the SA government while creating a new green industry and jobs market, she said. 

“The Greens envision a South Australia where this long-demonised plant our climate grows so well is harvested and used to create a new source of wealth that can be put to good use, such as healing our ailing health system. 

“A South Australia where cannabis profits are directed into preventative health and education, and where cannabis users are diverted away from our criminal justice system.”

Prior to it being tabled, the Liberal treasurer of SA Rob Lucas said it was highly unlikely the government would support the bill, although he acknowledged it was hard to comment before seeing the proposed legislation.

Opposition legal affairs spokesperson Kyam Maher said Labor did not support the full legalisation of recreational cannabis use.

In a separate move, New South Wales Greens MP Cate Faehrmann is bringing two cannabis reform bills to the state’s Upper House in the next two weeks.

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...