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Calls For Cannabis Reform Are Picking Up Steam In Australia

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Back in February, Australia‘s Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) released a report that presented two options for legalizing adult-use cannabis in Australia. The first option involves the creation of a new entity, the Cannabis National Agency. The agency would be the sole wholesaler between producers and licensed retailers, and it would set wholesale prices and issue all licenses.

Under the first option, the legal age for adult-use cannabis would be 18. Additionally, adult households would be able to cultivate up to six plants, and legal sales via licensed retailers would be permitted for non-residents in addition to residents.

All licensed sales would be “subject to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as well as a 25% excise duty on sales including the GST”. The second option that was part of the PBO report contains all of the previously mentioned provisions, with the exception of a lower excise rate (15%).

Several lawmakers in Australia are touting the recommendations of the report, including Greens Senator David Shoebridge. Per The Guardian:

Australia’s cannabis industry could be earning the black market $25bn a year and, rather than policing it, we could be gaining revenue from it by legalising it, Greens senator David Shoebridge has said.

“Law enforcement is spending billions of public dollars failing to police cannabis, and the opportunity here is to turn that all on its head by legalising it,” he said.

Shoebridge indicated that he intends to introduce a legalization bill that will be somewhat modeled on Canada’s adult-use cannabis policies. Canada became the second country to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2018, with Uruguay being the first in 2013.

Unlike Uruguay, which limits legal sales to residents only, Canada permits legal sales through various licensed channels to anyone of legal age, regardless of what country they are a resident of. As such, Canada is a top international cannabis tourism destination. With any luck, Australia will join them.