A bill that would allow adults to grow and carry small amounts of weed for personal use was introduced in New South Wales Parliament today.
The bill, spearheaded by Legalise Cannabis MP Jeremy Buckingham, would allow people to possess up to six plants and 50 grams of dried weed, and would allow people to gift weed to others so as long as it was not sold.
In an address to parliament when introducing the bill, Buckingham said prohibition was an “outdated” law. It came as it was revealed a majority of Australian’s support legislation.
“It’s time to legalise cannabis, it’s time to be bold, prohibition has failed and legalisation is the future,” he said.
“For the two-thirds of Australians who have never used cannabis there will be very little if any detectable change, all it does is legalise what is already happening out in our society.
“But for the 37 per cent who have used cannabis at least once, and especially for the 200,000 people in New South Wales who use medicinal cannabis to treat their condition, this will be a powerful force for good.”
Buckingham said prohibition laws were racist in their origins, adding that legislation would free up pressures on law enforcement and justice systems. He said in 2019-2020, nearly half of all drug related charges were related to weed.
“First Nations people are heavily overrepresented in the enforcement of unjust cannabis laws,” he said.
“Cannabis laws are being used to target First Nations people, and so often a prosecution for cannabis is the first step a First Nations person takes into the criminal justice system and has an enormous deleterious impact on their life.”
The bill comes ahead of the NSW drug summit, planned for next year, and Buckingham said he would use the bill as a model in that forum to continue to push for legislation.
The government was elected on a promise that it would host the summit, where drug reform laws would be examined, however NSW Premier Chris Minns has yet to outline a timeframe other than to say it will take place in 2024.
The previous drug summit, held in 1999, led to the creation of the state’s safe injection rooms.