Australian state to investigate legalizing recreational cannabis

Australia’s second-most populous state will explore international developments around “cannabis for adult use” as part of its investigation into drug law reform.

In a 586-page report, a parliamentary committee in Victoria recommended the creation of a council to investigate global changes in marijuana usage, as well as several other considerations involving comprehensive drug law reform.

“The development and implementation of cannabis regulatory models for adult use is an area of drug law reform worthy of exploration,” the authors wrote, “especially now that there are various models that can be monitored and reviewed,” including Uruguay, some U.S. states and Canada.

The report was tabled in Parliament on March 27.

Fiona Patten, who initiated the report and sits on the committee, told Marijuana Business Daily she is “completely in favor” of Victoria adopting recreational cannabis regulations.

“The value of the current illicit cannabis market in Victoria varies widely, but some put it is high at A$8 billion ($6.1 billion), which is a lot of money to be handing over to crime organisations,” the member of Victoria’s Legislative Council said.

“Our medicinal cannabis industry is in its infancy but should thrive. I hope we don’t have to follow the traditional path to adult use regulation of having a medicinal industry for at least a decade before we can expand to adult use regulation.”

Uruguay was the first country to legalize recreational cannabis at a federal level, while Canada will be the first G-7 country to follow suit later this summer.

Australia’s medical marijuana market, meanwhile, has seen anemic growth due in part to separate regulations at the state and federal government level.

That’s despite significant capital flowing into the country from Canadian companies such as Canopy GrowthCronos GroupAphriaAuroraPUF Ventures and MedReleaf.

The committee wants to streamline federal and state requirements to improve patient access to medicinal cannabis products.

The committee also asked for an investigation into the role of general practitioners in providing access to medicinal cannabis “and consider how they can be best supported in this area.”

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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