In the second of a two-part series, Cannabiz editor-at-large Rhys Cohen examines the models around the world for legalising recreational cannabis and what they might mean if applied in Australia.

Let’s assume you’re someone who believes we should legalise cannabis for recreational use. Or you might prefer the terms ‘social use’ or ‘adult use’.

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Rhys Cohen

As well as being editor-at-large at Cannabiz, Rhys is the director of Cannabis Consulting Australia, which provides commercial consulting services to various domestic and international cannabis companies....

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  1. As an Australian for tax paying purposes I’d like tax to be collected from the product I buy. Overseas people are paying less then half the price for superior quality and their governments collect tax. Wake up Australia, you’re getting ripped off.

  2. Great post and thanks for sharing. I think a halfway point between outright prohibition and a free market would be a great outcome from the review currently underway in Victoria. Perversely however, I wouldn’t underestimate industry attempts to block changes that aim to loosen laws around home cultivation. It would be naive to think multi-million dollar investments would be made without assurances at a state and federal level that provide some protection to this relatively new industry. Sadly, my outlook is pessimistic overall and legal cannabis will continue to be available to those that can afford the extortionate product and consultation fees involved with going the medical option. I hope to be proven wrong, but neither of the major parties have any appetite to relax laws around recreational use, not now and not ever it seems. For the rest of us, there is little option but to continue to access cannabis through tried and sort of trusted black market sources.

  3. Thought-provoking – thanks Rhys. It’s likely to be slow and steady, that’s for sure. I’d predict state-by-state legalisation will happen long before a national change. We still need at least 5 years before the conservative forces in politics will allow any of these options nationally. With the USA about to make federal changes, I’m sure that will inspire state-based changes soon enough.

  4. Legalisation might potentially increase smoking the product. Irrespective of other consequences this may well have potential health implications. Australia has been doing well in reducing the smoking of tobacco. Do we really want to increase the smoking risks again?

  5. Non-commercial legalisation should be the model we follow, it’ll allow for those types of clubs to form to enable access to those without it. There’s always going to be those who can’t afford it and the ability for people to share home-grown cannabis and do with it what they please will enable so many people access to a medicine they’ve been denied for so long.

  6. Here’s a fun fact: alcohol kills an Australian every 90 minutes.
    I live in inner-north Melbourne and I could name at least 10 different sports clubs and pubs where I could gamble and drink almost 24/7 right now. This is on top of the abundance of liquor stores, bars, cocktail lounges, breweries, inner-city micro wineries, and all the other “essential service” places that sell alcohol.
    I think you see the point I’m trying to make.
    I don’t want to stop anyone’s fun but just let me smoke and buy my herb in peace already.

  7. The thing is Lynnette (and it is a reasonable concern to have), this has not happened anywhere where legalisation efforts have been made. The studies have been done, the results are in and they’re consistently quite clear, irrespective of the location (ACT, Canada, USA, etc). Rampant use doesn’t exist, driving offences don’t increase significantly and medical users are actually better catered to due to ease of access and much lower prices. The fear mongering that is exacerbated by politicians, the police and issue motivated groups such as the ACL are all profiting from cannabis remaining illegal and they therefore have a vested interest in constantly drumming up disinformation and fear on the subject; problem is that their studies are biased and their figures are either disingenuous or completely fabricated.

    Due to the way cannabis is currently scheduled as a medication in Australia, coupled with the way the PBS and the TGA operate, cannabis as it exists right now won’t ever be covered by the PBS.

    If I can recommend a couple of documentaries as they outline perfectly the nonsense dictating cannabis policies and the way they’re spread in society:

    The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

    The Culture High

    The Grass Is Greener (Netflix)

  8. I have read this article and am concerned it would make cannabis readily legal for dispatching in any store. My concern is [people] using for recreation and drinking alcohol, then jumping into a car and driving. Not a good mix.

    I believe it should be on a PBS script for those suffering with chronic illness such as chronic pain, cancer and other diseases which it may help and bring relief to.


    1. Lynette, cannabis will never get a PBS jersey within the existing system. Medications only get listed after extensive research demonstrating both clinical efficacy and utility.

  9. Hey Rhys

    I like the ACT model: decriminalise, allow possession use cultivation with no legal implications … Governments are missing the boat on the tax revenue potential … foolish given they are more than happy to tax the heck out of alcohol and tobacco (these will kill you … fact) the stigma of cannabis as a drug is the problem, it influences the community… the same community that condemns its use while sitting round discussing it over drinks and smokes … I would love to say education is the key but I am finding as a health practitioner that people continue to be ignorant.