Federal parliament could override state laws to legalise recreational marijuana use, according to new constitutional advice obtained by the Greens.
The commonwealth “could regulate cannabis strains as plant varieties and cause them to be listed in a schedule in respect of which the commonwealth has exclusive regulatory control,” according to Prof. Keyzer’s advice, which notes that section 51(xviii) gives the commonwealth the authority to regulate plant variety rights.
Keyzer is the dean of the Thomas More Law School at the Australian Catholic University and a constitutional and human rights attorney.
The Green Party claims that giving the federal government the authority to control cannabis cultivation, licensing, and sales, as well as the steps required to establish a lawful national cannabis market, would supersede state and local marijuana prohibition laws.
Shoebridge said the move would be the first attempt to legalize cannabis through the federal parliament and would see Australia join nations such as Germany, Canada, Uruguay, South Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, Malta, and at least 19 states in the United States in decriminalizing the drug. Shoebridge plans to release a draft bill for consultation later this year.
“We’ve been told to wait for cannabis law reform for too long, even when it’s obvious that the majority of harm caused is by policing and the war on drugs, not the plant,” Shoebridge said in a statement on Monday.
“Recreational cannabis is enjoyed by millions in Australia and around the world, and pretending otherwise is increasingly ridiculous.
“At least 40% of Australians have used cannabis and any law that makes almost half of us criminals needs to go.”
According to the Greens, their consultation on a draft bill will take into account the right number of plants that a person can legally grow, penalties for illegal sale or distribution, including to minors, taxation policies, the ban on the tobacco and alcohol industries’ entry into the cannabis market, and the function of grower cooperatives.
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Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance in Australia, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. A 2019–20 poll found that 36% of persons over the age of 14 had used cannabis at some point in their lifetime, and 11.6% had used it within the previous 12 months.
The institute also discovered that, with minor exceptions in South Australia and the ACT, the majority of Australians aged 14 and older (78%) oppose making cannabis possession a criminal offense, as is the situation in the majority of states and territories.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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