04 May 2023
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel Payne MLC – South-Eastern Metropolitan Region
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health. In the last term of Parliament the Legislative Council Legal and Social Issues Committee inquired into the use of cannabis in Victoria. That inquiry was extensive. No less than 1475 people made submissions, and the committee held 28 public hearings. The report tabled on 5 August 2021 made 21 findings and 17 recommendations and laid the foundations for broad reform for cannabis-related policy in Australia. Importantly, the report recommended that the government
… investigates the impacts of legalising cannabis for adult … use in Victoria.
The overwhelming majority of stakeholders who submitted to the inquiry supported the need for cannabis law reform. The committee heard that the criminalisation approach to cannabis in Victoria is not addressing problematic use of cannabis and is in fact contributing to the harms experienced by vulnerable people. It heard that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians, young people and other minority groups are disproportionately affected by current cannabis laws and that Victoria spends millions of dollars annually criminalising cannabis.
The committee considered the approaches of jurisdictions in Europe, the United States, Canada and our neighbours in the ACT, who have introduced legislation to decriminalise or legalise cannabis. The lessons learned from these jurisdictions show that appropriate regulation of adult use of cannabis can be achieved. The standing orders of this Parliament require that a government must respond within six months of a report being tabled, but it did not.
We have now entered the 60th term of Parliament. Despite that, and it may be an unconventional request, the action I seek is that the minister respond to the inquiry into the use of cannabis in Victoria. It was a significant body of work and deserves a response.
Received: 27 July 2023
Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP
(Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Ambulance Services)
While this is a matter for the Minister for Mental Health, the Victorian Government welcomed the findings of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Cannabis in Victoria and commended the contributions of those people who shared their insights and expertise with the Legal and Social Issues Committee.
The Inquiry Report continues to be under careful consideration by government.