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Legislative Council

29 November 2023
Second reading
Aiv Puglielli  (GRN)


Aiv PUGLIELLI (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (15:20): I am very pleased to rise today on behalf of the Greens and support this bill, which essentially allows for the personal use and possession of cannabis. The Greens have long been supporters of the green. We have been advocating in this place for over a decade for legal weed, and in supporting this bill we will continue to call for a realistic and evidence-based approach to drug law reform that treats drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. It is frankly unfair that a young person could end up with a criminal record for possessing cannabis, and it is also unacceptable that First Nations people around Australia are more likely to be pursued through the courts for possession of a small quantity of cannabis than non-Aboriginal people.

We are really lagging behind much of the world here when it comes to the conversation on legalising cannabis and cannabis reform. Many other countries have realised that prohibition causes more harm than it prevents, and they have consequently changed their laws. Our current tough-on-drugs approach disproportionately affects socially disadvantaged people. Thousands of vulnerable people who use drugs are needlessly dragged through the criminal justice system with great damage to their lives. To be blunt, a law and order, ‘Just say no’ approach does not work here. We need to be clear eyed and acknowledge that people in Victoria smoke weed. That is what they do. We have rightly legalised it for medicinal purposes, but we should be going further, decriminalising it and legalising it for personal use too. This allows for community education and harm reduction, and it disempowers the black market trade that has been spoken about here today.

More than a third of people over 14 years of age have used cannabis at least once in their life, and out in the community the majority of people agree that possession of cannabis should not be a crime. I am talking about almost 80 per cent of Australians – that is significant. As a step beyond this bill, the Greens position is that cannabis should be legalised and its sale should be regulated and then taxed. For example, our Parliamentary Budget Office costing from last year revealed that such a plan could raise $1.21 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. These funds could then be invested into, say, drug and alcohol detox and treatment services, which have been frankly chronically underfunded for years. It is high time that Victoria got smarter on drugs. This bill would be an excellent first step towards sensible drug policy in our state, so I say: yes, we cannabis.