06th March 2024 06:11pm
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:11): (757)

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health, Minister Stitt. Last week the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022–2023 was released, providing us with a treasure trove of data on Australia’s use and opinions on legal and illicit drugs. This survey gave us long-awaited data on the impact of the decriminalisation of cannabis in the ACT.

Despite the changes made by the ACT government, the use of cannabis in the previous 12 months had not increased. Instead it remained stable, at 8.7 per cent. Since 2007, usage has ranged between 8.4 per cent and 10.5 per cent, meaning that 8.7 per cent is one of the lowest recorded rates. In fact the use of cannabis in the ACT during 2022 and 2023 was lower than in the rest of Australia.

The results are in, and they could not be clearer: decriminalisation does not increase usage.

It is so disappointing that Victoria continues to lag behind its domestic and international counterparts. The time for reform is now. Our current prohibition model continues to burden police, burden the criminal justice system and burden its victims with criminal convictions – all at the taxpayers’ expense.

And it is not like this government is short of options for reform. Our bill, the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Regulation of Personal Adult Use of Cannabis) Bill 2023, improves upon the model of decriminalisation in the ACT, dealing with issues like possession of seeds and gifting. Not only do we have the evidence that decriminalisation does not increase usage, we also have a preprepared bill that can help you make the reforms that you so desperately need.

So the action I seek is that the minister commit to regulating the personal adult use of cannabis.

Written Answer
Received: 08 April 2024
Hon. Ingrid Stitt MP
(Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs)

I thank the Member for South-Eastern Metropolitan for her question.

The Victorian Government is committed to preventing and reducing drug related harm in the Victorian community.

The Allan Labor Government is investing significantly in essential alcohol and other drug treatment, prevention and harm reduction services for our community, with total output expenditure of $372 million in this financial year alone.

While the Government has no plans to legalise cannabis, we know that health-led policies towards drug use yield positive social and economic outcomes, and that law enforcement alone does not address the issue.

We will continue to work to prevent and reduce the harms associated with drug use in Victoria, including cannabis, through coordinated effort and investment in evidence-based action. We are committed to implementing innovative approaches for Victorians who need us to work differently, including the Medically Supervised Injecting Room and our new health-led response to public intoxication. 


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