The Age – 31/8/16
· Benjamin Preiss
Victorians would be free to smoke and grow marijuana if a push by the Sex Party to legalise the drug is successful.
On Wednesday, Sex Party MP Fiona Patten will introduce a motion to the upper house calling on the government to immediately remove criminal sanctions for the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for personal use by people 18 and older.
Australian Sex Party leader, Fiona Patten. Photo: Melissa Davis
The motion will also urge the government to allow the drug to be grown by farmers, which would create an additional revenue source through taxation.
She will move the motion in a bid to force the major parties to debate the legalisation of cannabis. The matter is set for debate on September 14.
“The time has come,” Ms Patten said. “Most people understand that the overseas experience of legalising cannabis for recreational use has had only upsides.”
Ms Patten said other jurisdictions that had legalised cannabis had achieved “massive savings” in law enforcement, which had flowed through to unclogging court systems.
She said regulations should also be drafted to allow for the licensing and taxation of farmers, wholesalers and retailers of recreational cannabis.
Ms Patten also wants prohibitions on cannabis paraphernalia, including bongs, to be scrapped “because there is simply no evidence such restrictions work”.
She also plans to introduce a private member’s bill for the legalisation of recreational cannabis next year.
Although Ms Patten’s push to legalise marijuana may be seen as unlikely to succeed, she has achieved wins in other ambitious policy areas.
She has already successfully campaigned to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics and lobbied to legalise ride-sharing service Uber. She also proposed a parliamentary inquiry into drug laws.
The inquiry will examine the effectiveness of roadside drug testing, harm reduction strategies and whether pill-testing facilities should be introduced at music festivals.
A cross-party committee will produce a report on the inquiry by March 2017.
Victoria will be the first state to legalise medical cannabis in Australia. Children with epilepsy will first get access to medical cannabis next year.
The government has established a horticultural trial for medical cannabis.