Greens MP and drug-law reform spokesperson Cate Faehrmann has launched the party’s plan to legalise and regulate recreational cannabis for adults in New South Wales after this month’s election.
The plan would allow households to grow up to 12 plants, legalise cannabis social clubs and establish a NSW Cannabis Authority to regulate the market and prevent the dominance of the industry by large corporations.
Cannabis products would be regulated to reduce harm, with health warnings, CBD/THC content labelling and prohibitions on advertising.
Past cannabis convictions would be expunged and drug-driving laws would be reformed to test for impairment rather than presence.
The Greens claimed the plan would generate up to A$9 billion in revenue over a decade for the state.
Faehrmann said: “More than one in three of us have used cannabis in our lifetimes and more than two million Australians use cannabis each year.
“Prohibition has well and truly failed and governments all around the world are finally accepting this fact. We’ve seen legalisation in 21 US states, Canada, Uruguay, South Africa and Mexico and the sky hasn’t fallen in.
“People are risking criminal records just because their drug of choice has been deemed illegal because of a moral crusade started before I was born. The fact is cannabis poses much less harm to individual users and to our society compared to alcohol, tobacco and many prescription drugs.”
Faehrmann pledged to introduce the bill as a priority after the election, insisting it would protect cannabis consumers and young people.
“At the moment most people have no idea of the strength of the cannabis they are buying on the illicit market and whether or not it’s laced with other drugs,” she said.
“A regulated cannabis market would protect young people because, unlike drug dealers, cannabis stores will be required to check ID and refuse service to those under 18.”
In January, a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office commissioned by the Greens stated legalising recreational cannabis federally could generate A$28 billion in taxes over 10 years.
Faehrmann said that would mean $6.5 billion in revenue and $2.4 billion in GST for NSW over the period.
On drug driving, she added: “Every year thousands of people are being charged for drug driving after testing positive to THC even though the effect had worn off long before they got behind the wheel.
“Our plan will not only create a legal defence for medicinal cannabis patients, but reform the entire mobile drug-testing program to test for impairment instead of mere presence.
“Instead of billions of dollars going into the pockets of organised crime, our bill would enable the sale of cannabis to be regulated and taxed, meaning hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially billions, would be diverted to our health system, including drug rehabilitation and harm reduction,” Faehrmann said.
Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith added: “The war is not on drugs, it’s on our people. I’ve got 80-year-old constituents who are having fantastic results from prescribed cannabis for chronic health conditions who cannot drive or enjoy their mobility because they might lose their licence – despite the fact that they are not impaired.
“I’ve also got medicinal cannabis producers in my electorate delivering economic and health benefits to our region, but stymied by outdated attitudes to cannabis use.”
Voters go to the polls on March 25, 2023.