Pubdate: Wed, 31 Aug 2016
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2016 The Age Company Ltd
Author: 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.

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.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom