Cannabis Law Reform

This section contains information on cannabis and law reform in the Australian context.

Tuesday 14 February 2012 (Hansard and papers) – Notices of Motion No. 59

Dr Kaye to move—

1. That this House:

(a) notes the increasing body of international peer-reviewed scientific and medical research
which substantiates the palliative and therapeutic benefits of cannabis and cannabinoid

(b) notes that the Carr Government’s 1999 Drug Summit recommended a trial of medical
cannabis which has not been implemented, and

(c) calls on the Minister for Health to establish a medical cannabis trial in New South Wales,
including assessing and addressing any legislative and jurisdictional barriers to this trial.

2. That this House notes that the medical cannabis trial established by the Minister for Health
would conform to the following principles:

(a) it would be limited to cannabis in tincture form,

(b) diagnoses for which medical cannabis may be prescribed under the scheme would be
limited to: cancer, AIDS-related severe wasting, chronic pain, chronic nausea, vertigo,
glaucoma, seizures, multiple sclerosis, muscle spasticity and any other illness, condition
or disorder for which the Minister for Health in consultation with the Pharmaceutical
Services Branch of NSW Health is satisfied medical cannabis may form an appropriate
part of palliative or therapeutic treatment for, and

(c) eligibility for participation in the scheme would be based on prescription from an
individual’s general practitioner or treating specialist submitted to NSW Health for

3. That this House calls on the Minister for Health to report to this House on the results of the trial
after one year including:

(a) any benefits or side effects identified,

(b) any legal barriers encountered and how they were addressed, and

(c) any barriers to the permanent establishment of a medical marijuana scheme in New South Wales and how they may be addressed.

(Notice given 23 November 2011—expires Notice Paper No. 77)

Drugs and our Community: Report of the Premier’s Drug Advisory Council/Premier’s Drug Advisory Council, March 1996.

This report makes a number of recommendations pertaining to cannabis:

Elimination, as an offence, of personal possession and use of marijuana. This would enable police and court resources to be redirected to more effective community policing and law enforcement against drug trafficking across the range of illicit drugs, including other more potent cannabis products.

Growing of up to five plants per household for personal use would also no longer be an offence. This should apply to a normal residence, but should not apply to schools, colleges or public institutions.

Legislative options for cannabis use in Australia: Monograph no. 26

This paper is concerned with the legislative options available for cannabis, and the impact of those options on the community at large and on the law enforcement sector.

Prepared by the Commonwealth of Australia in 1994. Here is an excerpt:

The total prohibition policy, as implemented in the United States, many other countries and most of the Australian States and Territories, has clearly not achieved its intended goal of substantially reducing cannabis consumption. This is despite an increasing amount of resources directed towards achieving this goal. Both the financial and social costs of law enforcement under an active policy of total prohibition are high. The policy fails to meet a number of the crucial criteria for good drugs policy, enunciated above. Cannabis policy has not been separated from that of other drugs; arguments about the consequences of drug use have not been separated from arguments about morals; the goals of the ‘war on drugs’ are unrealistic; it appears that the harms caused by the control regimes outweigh the harms caused by the drug itself.

little evidence exists that cannabis itself causes significant harm when used in small quantities. Australian society experiences more harm, we conclude, from maintaining the prohibition policy than it experiences from the use of the drug.

Royal Commission into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs, South Australia: Final Report [1979]

The Final Report has recommended the decriminalisation of the private use and cultivation of cannabis and cannabis resin for personal and non-profit social use.