The Greens Are Drafting Legislation To Legalise Cannabis But Labor Still Won’t Back It
“In short, the Commonwealth can regulate the cultivation, licensing, and sale of cannabis."
The Australian Greens have renewed calls to legalise cannabis at a national level following new advice from a constitutional law expert showing that a nationalised law could override state-level criminalisation.
Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge took to Twitter on Monday to announce that Australia “could legalise cannabis across the country this year!”
We can legalise it!
Legal advice obtained by my office shows that the Greens can pass a bill to legalise cannabis NATIONALLY.
All state legislation criminalising its legal use, possession and sale can be overridden. We could legalise cannabis across the country this year!
— David Shoebridge (@DavidShoebridge) September 25, 2022
The announcement comes off the back of advice from constitutional law expert Patrick Keyzer, who says the pathway to legalising cannabis is through regulating plant variety rights at a Commonwealth level.
“In short, the Commonwealth can regulate the cultivation, licensing, and sale of cannabis,” the Greens said in a statement. “Once this occurs, all state and territory laws contrary to the use of cannabis under the Commonwealth laws (being the current state criminal sanctions) would cease to have effect.”
The proposed legislation will also look to allow medicinal users to drive with THC in their system, as long as they’re not impaired.
Currently, it is illegal to drive in Australia with any amount of THC in your system, even if you are not actively impaired while driving. Considering cannabis can be detected in a random roadside test for up to 30 hours after consumption, this is obviously a huge issue for regular users.
The only exception to this rule is in Tasmania, where medicinal cannabis patients can defend a positive RBT result, provided they have a legitimate medical permit and are not impaired by the drug at the time.
At a state level, the Greens have already pushed for these amendments in Queensland as part of amendments to the Queensland Government’s Road Safety and Other Matters Bill last month.
“Queensland law puts THC in the same category as MDMA and ice, despite the fact that it is legally prescribed, and patients can test positive for presence days or even weeks after use, when they’re not impaired,” Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman said.
“The only function of the law as it currently stands is to reinforce the total prohibition of cannabis — it’s out of date, discriminatory, and provides no safety benefit.”
“We’re moving these simple amendments to bring medicinal cannabis in line with other medicines. Under our amendments, it would still be illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug, including cannabis, but patients would no longer be criminalised just for having THC in their system.”
“Surely this is just common sense…”
The Project host Lisa Wilkinson was quick to praise Tasmania for its policy, calling for the same “common sense” approach nationwide.
“Surely this is just common sense,” said Wilkinson on Sunday. “This is doctors talking to police and — a box being ticked … Tasmania as is so often the case, gets it right.”
The proposed change in legislation will likely mimic the Tasmanian laws, which means recreational cannabis users will still risk losing their license if trace amounts of the drug are found in their system.
It remains unclear how and when driving laws will be amended after recreational cannabis is legalised.
The Federal Government remains opposed to legalising cannabis, but the Greens will introduce the legislation regardless.