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Australia: Steps Taken Towards Permitting Personal Use of Cannabis

In a landmark move towards comprehensive cannabis reform, the Australian Greens have unveiled their long-anticipated legislation aimed at decriminalising and regulating cannabis use across the nation. Senator David Shoebridge introduced the bill to the Senate, marking a significant step forward after extensive consultations demonstrated widespread public support for the legalisation of cannabis. The proposed legislation seeks to establish a national cannabis licensing framework and regulatory body, responsible for overseeing the commercial cultivation and distribution of specific cannabis strains through licensed cafes and dispensaries.

Senator Shoebridge, a vocal advocate for a legal cannabis market, expressed his excitement on social media, hailing the moment as "historic" and thanking all those who contributed to shaping the bill. Drawing on legal advice, the Greens are confident in their ability to pass legislation that could override state laws criminalising cannabis, thereby paving the way for a national legalisation effort.

The proposed model, informed by feedback from over 9000 survey responses, envisions a unified national cannabis market, addressing crucial aspects such as labelling, storage, manufacturing, advertising, and penalties. Under the Greens' "green gold" model, adults would be permitted to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home without taxation. A recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), commissioned by the Greens, projected potential revenues of $28 billion from legalizing cannabis for adult use.

The PBO policy costing report also revealed that approximately 12% of Australian adults are regular recreational cannabis consumers, a number that could rise to nearly 14% in the initial year following legalisation. Currently, penalties for cannabis possession vary across different Australian states, with South Australia imposing some of the most stringent measures, including fines ranging from $2000 to $200,000 and a potential 25 years of imprisonment for possession exceeding a "low level."

While medical cannabis with a prescription has been legal in Australia since 2016, its regulation falls under the purview of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The introduction of the Greens' legislation represents a groundbreaking step towards a comprehensive and regulated approach to cannabis use, reflecting evolving public attitudes and the potential economic benefits of legalisation.

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