MP backs cannabis reform

South Eastern Metropolitan MP in the upper house, Rachel Payne. Photo: Tony Lee.

A South Eastern Metropolitan MP is advocating for cannabis law reforms, after research revealed half of Australians think cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.

Legalise Cannabis Victoria MP for the Upper House, Rachel Payne, said the party is seeking “sensible and meaningful reform” to end the criminalisation of personal use cannabis.

It comes as new Essential Report research found 53 per cent of Labor voters and nearly 50 per cent of Coalition voters were in agreement over cannabis regulation.

Ms Payne said the polling shows the “Australian war on drugs does not work”.

“The cost of prohibition from cannabis-related law enforcement spending takes not only an enormous economic toll, but it does nothing for harm minimisation in our community,” she said.

“If a majority of voters think the same, isn’t it time our government got on the right side of history by reforming outdated laws, in line with community expectations?”

Just 26 per cent of people are opposed to the regulation and taxation of cannabis, the report found, offering a signal that many Australians would support change in the field.

The polling follows the Legalise Cannabis Party simultaneously introducing their Regulation of Cannabis for Personal Adult Use Bill 2023 in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia in June.

The fresh polling is indicative of a positive trend in support for cannabis legislation reform, with the last National Drug Strategy Household Survey recording support of adult cannabis use of 41 per cent; up from 35 per cent in 2016.

The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey indicated 74 per cent of Australians believe the consumption of cannabis should not be a criminal offence.

Fellow Legal Cannabis Party MP David Ettershank said the numbers were a clear vindication of support for the party’s reform calls.

“The Australian population is clearly well ahead of our major political parties and it’s time for those parties to catch up and act,” he said.

“Instead of the perpetual criminalisation and marginalisaton of people for cannabis use, Australians want taxation and regulation.

“Our regulation bill will be a first step in ending the cannabis black market, and a first step in cannabis education and community safety.”