Skip navigation

Unfinished business – the legalisation of cannabis

More than 20 years after the first NSW Drug Summit, a key front in the war on drugs may be about to finally end.

In the final week of NSW Parliament for 2023, we introduced the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Amendment (Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis) Bill 2023 that will legalise the personal consumption of cannabis.

Jeremy brings cannabis to NSW parliament during bill introduction at 10 minute mark.

Key aspects of the Bill:

  • Allow adults to grow a maximum of six plants,
  • Permit adults to gift – but not to sell – the harvest,
  • Adult possession of up to 50g of cannabis.

This unprecedented legislation will allow adults to responsibly possess and grow small quantities of cannabis at home and has been modelled, in part, on the ACT regime that has been in operation since 2020.

Similar Bills are also before the parliaments of Victoria and Western Australia.

Legalise Cannabis MLC Jeremy Buckingham will introduce the Bill today and expects to debate and vote on it next year.

“The changes we are proposing are both modest and unthreatening,” he said.

“In essence, we want to legalise an adult to cultivate not more than six cannabis plants for personal use and to allow them to share the harvest with friends.

“The benefits of a careful and responsible relaxation on the adult use of cannabis are profound and important.

“This will create a drastic reduction in the costs of law enforcement, it will attack the profits of organised crime and it will put cannabis where it belongs – in the domain of health.”

The 1999 Drug Summit made three recommendations relating to cannabis use which were not immediately endorsed by the Government.

These included the removal of jail penalties for cannabis use or possession of small quantities; repeal of laws for possession of equipment used to take a prohibited drug; and legalisation to allow police discretion in particular circumstances.

The move is supported by Harm Reduction Australia, an NGO dedicated to drug law reform.

Executive director Dr Annie Madden AO said the Bill made sense on a policy and economic level and would reduce the social harms associated with the current approach to cannabis.

“We know that 90 per cent of current cannabis-related charges are for personal use and/or possession offences, and that criminalising people who use cannabis costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year in law enforcement and judicial costs,” she said.

“We also know the current approach has serious personal costs for individuals and their families in the form of criminal records that often have negative long-term effects including future travel and employment restrictions. 

“The removal of these criminal sanctions for these low-level offences would reduce the negative impact of current laws on individuals and their families, as well as reducing the number of people that are losing their livelihoods due to highly damaging and inaccurate drug-driving records.

“In relation to cannabis, we can and should do better and this Bill, provides a just, fair, and sensible way forward with benefits for the entire community.”

Continue Reading

Read More