A bill has been introduced to Australia’s Federal Parliament that could see a legal home grow and commercial cannabis market launch across the nation – if the major parties get on board.
On Thursday last week Greens Senator David Shoebridge introduced the party’s Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023. The Act resulting from the bill would introduce provisions for cannabis strains to be registered, and regulate activities relating to cannabis use including growing, selling, and manufacturing. The Act would establish the Cannabis Australia National Agency (CANA), which is to oversee licensing and regulating cannabis trade.
Under the Act, adults would also be able to grow up to six plants at home without needing to seek permission, and to make products from those plants for personal consumption such as brownies.
“Everyone knows that it is not a matter of if we legalise cannabis in Australia, it’s a matter of when, and today we’re taking a huge step forward,” said Senator Shoebridge last week. “The Greens are here to get this done, and we’ll be working hard to get the numbers to make this law.”
Before formally introducing the bill to Parliament, the Greens carried out a consultation that attracted 8,916 survey responses and 38 detailed submissions. Among the changes resulting from that consultation was an amendment to the bill to give powers to the Cannabis Australia National Agency to set out labelling requirements to help better protect consumers.
So, what would happen to Australia’s medical cannabis scheme and industry participants if recreational use is legalised?
The legislation would not make any changes to the medicinal scheme, and there may be some opportunities for local industry. The exclusion of big pharma from the recreational market has been amended to make it clear it’s not intended to prevent participation of medicinal cannabis companies.
For patients, there would be no tax on products where cannabis is sold exclusively as a medicine.
“It’s time to seize the many opportunities that legalisation poses,” said Senator Shoebridge. “This includes the $28 billion in public revenue that legalisation can bring in in the first 9 years of operation.”
The full text of Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 can be found here.