25th September 2019 and the State Government of the Australian Capital Territory moves to make the possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis (aka Marijuana) legal. Smokers all over Canberra and its surrounding regions would have been jumping for joy at the news. But what about the rest of Australia? Who will be the next state to follow suit and how long will it be before that happens?

Just calm down already, the new ACT laws don’t come into effect until the end of January 2020 and so far there has been no talk of other States following…


…Or has there?

According to Cannabis Express Au, one Member of Parliament is on a one-woman mission to have cannabis legal in Victoria in 2020. Fiona Patten and her party known as ‘The Reason Party’ believe that it is absolutely going to happen.

The Reason Party, a forward-thinking political party in Victoria, recently made an ambitious new policy pitch stating that buying and using cannabis will be legal in Victoria within the next two years. Now that the leader of the Party Fiona Patten has been re-elected as an MP (Member of Parliament) in Victoria, she has started working on cannabis legalisation.

Popular radio host Jon Faine has stated: “Fiona Patten is, without doubt, Australia’s most effective legislator.” This is good news since her number one policy has become to get Cannabis legalized in Victoria.  She is also pushing for religious accountability and greater separation of church and state, to legalize sex work and reduce social isolation and loneliness.

In addition to just allowing for the growing of cannabis as in the ACT, Ms. Patten aims to take this bill a step further to regulate the manufacturing of cannabis in Victoria:

Cannabis law reform is the top political agenda on Patten’s list for the 59th Parliament. The legislation, called the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Cannabis Regulation) Bill 2018, states that it is a bill to amend the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 to:

  • Provide legal access to cannabis.

  • Control and regulate the cultivation, manufacturing and supply of cannabis.

  • Prevent the young population accessing the black market in order to obtain marijuana.

  • Protect public health and safety by establishing strict product quality requirements.

  • Deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for persons operating outside the legal framework.

  • Reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in the context of cannabis.

Ms Patten believes that Victoria, the most progressive Australian state, is ready for the change. She argues that marijuana has become far more accessible than cigarettes and the revenue is going directly to the black market. Legalising cannabis will eliminate the involvement of drug cartels and criminal organisations that provide Victorians illegal access to marijuana, and the revenue will go to the government. She wants cannabis to be legalised for possession, use and sale while subject to regulation as well as making cultivation and manufacturing subject to taxes.

She is right there. Not only has cannabis become more available in Victoria, but it has also become more organized. Back in the nineties, the market was rampant with Asian ‘toilet weed’ – A cheap strain of hydroponics grown in poor conditions and dipped in fly spray or other chemicals. These days, you will find the average dealer advertising on the web and using decrypting apps such as Wickr to do their business. You are likely to receive a full menu and a description of the strains available that day. Back in the old times. We didn’t know what a strain was.

So the situation has improved, and strangely, prices haven’t gone up too much. But, it could be better. Buying without fear would be one thing. Secondly, the choice of strains for various medical and social situations would be useful, and, better regulation and the availability of organic options would be great.

Cannabis use and availability would not increase or decrease as a result, it would just get better and safer,

whilst the government would surely benefit from the extra money flowing into taxes and the economy instead of the hands of whomever.

                                              

Tax benefits of cannabis legalization in Victoria

 

Figures from the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) released in November shows that Patten’s policies make financial sense. Cannabis legalization would generate $204.6 million in revenue for the Victorian government by reducing the costs of policing and sparking new revenue through the tax on sales.

The Reason Party requested these figures, providing cost estimates for two policy options – cannabis legalization following the Canadian model, and decriminalizing personal cannabis use entirely, as in Portugal. By adopting the Portuguese model of decriminalizing cannabis for personal use, Victoria would save $168 million from the state budget. The Portuguese government decriminalized marijuana possession and consumption in 2001 and addicts are directed to health and social services, rather than to courts.

The bottom line here is, there are many benefits to the legalization of cannabis in Victoria. These benefits are for everyone, not just users. As Ms. Patten says:

Victoria is the progressive state’

Victoria was, after all, the first state to legalize medical Marijuana, as poor as that system turned out to be. But anyway we are not here to say whether it’s good or not, the main point is…


Is it going to happen?

The Australia Greens party is also making the move to change Victorian cannabis laws, calling on the government to support a national scheme to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. Community support for the legalization of recreational cannabis is widespread, with more than 45% of Australians aged 18-39 believing that marijuana should be legal.

 

Ms. Patten has also proposed a new agency that would oversee the new cannabis legalization, including production and licensing and the proportion of sales collected by the state. Cannabis legalization makes sense, considering the world’s major economies are making this change, and it’s the time for Victoria to make a historic reform once again. So, it’s not really a question of if, but a question of when. According to Ms. Patten and her party, the answer to that question is 2020.


More information about Fiona Patten is available at these links:

fionapatten.com.au

twitter.com/FionaPattenMLC

www.instagram.com/fionapattenmp


This article is a collection of ideas by the author. It does not constitute facts or advice in any form. Please consult a medical professional and check the legality in your area before purchasing or taking CBD products.


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