The parliamentary inquiry into cannabis use in Victoria has been hearing from a range of stakeholders this week, with ACT politician Michael Pettersson discussing his private members’ bill to regulate personal use and cultivation, which passed in the territory in 2019.

Chair of the inquiry, Reason Party leader Fiona Patten, said the ACT’s move was a “major shift in government policy”.

Reason Party leader and inquiry chair Fiona Patten

“It is really important we hear from our interstate neighbours about how the new laws are operating as we look at the many different ways we could reform cannabis policy in this state,” she said.

Other stakeholders to appear include representatives from Victoria Legal Aid, the National Drug Research Institute, Drug Free Australia, and Springvale Monash Legal Service. More than 1,400 submissions have been made to the inquiry, with a final report due in August.

The Health and Community Services Union called on the government to legalise cannabis for personal use. Secretary Paul Healey said the move would stop criminals benefitting from the black market and lead to sweeping changes to the state’s health and criminal justice systems.

The union, which represents more than 10,000 mental health, disability and drug and alcohol workers across Victoria, pointed to the success other regions have had in legalising and taxing cannabis.

“Many other places have legalised the drug and the world hasn’t ended,” he said. “It will make a seismic change [to] how our state operates as a whole.”

Victoria recorded around 12,000 cannabis possession offences in 2020.