In 2018, a former Australian politician, David Leyonhjelm, introduced a bill to the parliament which would amend several restrictions to the use of cannabis. By passing the bill into law, all barriers on the sale, regulation and taxation of cannabis would essentially be removed. Leyonhjelm’s approach to this bill is simply that “adults should be free to make their own choices as long as they do not harm others.”
The Green Party, under Richard Di Natale, seeks to decriminalize cannabis for individuals over the age of 18. As opposed to Leyonhjelm, Di Natale seeks to decriminalise marijuana as Australia’s ‘war on drugs’ has failed.
Despite the stringent laws on cannabis, Australia remains one of the world’s largest consumer of cannabis. The Green Party argues that the ‘war on drugs’ has done nothing to stifle the consumption of marijuana. Instead of criminalising the substance, the party advocates an educational model towards marijuana and other drugs. By educating the people on drug use, harm and misuse can be minimised.
The party projects to create a system where a government regulated agency is the sole wholesaler and distributor of cannabis in the nation. This agency will also handle the registration of prospective growers and retailers.
All attempts to legalisation have been unsuccessful to date. Commenting on the attempts to legalisation, Australia’s Minister of Health, Greg Hunt, offers no support to the pro-cannabis movements. He remarks that the attempts at legalisation are ‘dangerous and medically irresponsible’.
Statistics reflect the growing support for legalisation amongst the general populace. A telephone poll conducted by the Greens in Tasmania found that 59% of residents support the decriminalisation of cannabis within the state, as opposed to 28% that don’t. In this same telephone poll, Denison recorded 63% in favor, to 23% in opposition, while Braddon recorded a 59% support chunk.
These findings echo those of a study conducted by the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NSDH Survey) which shows that Australians largely support the decriminalisation and legalisation of cannabis.
Despite the overwhelming support of politicians and the population, cannabis remains illegal in Australia. In recent times, a Labor backbencher named Michael Pettersson, proposed a bill to legalise marijuana in the ACT. The bill received widespread support from Pettersson’s party as well as the Green party, meeting the required majority vote to be passed into law.