Greens and lawyers alliance push for cannabis to be legalised in Tasmania

Push to legalise cannabis in Tasmania

The Tasmanian government is facing pressure to legalise cannabis.

However, Premier Will Hodgman and Police Minister Mark Shelton have both rejected any suggestion that Tasmania should follow the Australian Capital Territory Government to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.

"The Tasmanian Government is not considering legalising recreational marijuana or any illicit drugs, Mr Shelton said on Sunday.

Mr Hodgman also ruled out legalising cannabis in Tasmania.

"There's a reason why certain drugs are not legal and that's because they're not safe to use and we have no intention of changing the law," he said.

However, the Greens, Australian Lawyers' Alliance and Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania have welcomed the ACT legislation.

Dr Rosalie Woodruff.

Dr Rosalie Woodruff.

Greens health spokeswoman Dr Rosalie Woodruff said the Greens supported "the global policy shift on illicit drug use into harm reduction".

"The 'war on drugs' policy of the last 30 years has allowed criminal syndicates to flourish, and huge numbers of people to suffer as a result," Dr Woodruff said.

"We applaud the ACT Government for its nation-leading preventive health decision to legalise cannabis for personal use. It will mean education can be prioritised and advice provided to those who use about how to stay safe."

Dr Woodruff said she hope the Tasmanian government would consider the ACT model because it had "real policy merit and it's what health promoting leaders should do".

Ausatralian Lawyers' Alliance national justice spokesman Greg Barns said the ACT legislation reflected what was happening overseas in countries including Canada, the United States and Europe.

"No-one takes our laws seriously," Mr Barns said.

Barrister Greg Barns.

Barrister Greg Barns.

"Cannabis is used to get people off opioids when they are in chronic pain.

"Our courts are full of people charged with possession and the saving to the courts and the community from this law would be substantial.

Mr Barns said changing the cannabis laws was "inevitable".

"The only ones applauding the Premier's decision not to change our laws will be drug traffickers who make their living from the black market," he said.

"Once you make it legal you ruin the income model for traffickers."

Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania chief executive Alison Lai said the community needed to be engaged on changes to cannabis laws.

Alison Lai.

Alison Lai.

"The ACT is very brave - we think it's bold and in line with international policy," Ms Lai said.

"The ACT went down decriminalisation path before making it legal and we're willing to have that discussion with the government and community.

"It does carry stigma and should be a health approach.

"There's no evidence it creates more crime."

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who was in Scottsdale last week was incredulous at the ACT government's decision and said it was the wrong message for young people and a road safety problem.

"I don't want to be sharing the road with a pot head," Mr McCormack said.

"It should not be legal. This is madness and they should be ashamed of themselves.

"They've spent too much time smoking hooch themselves."

The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.

Under the laws, which come into effect on January 31, 2020, adults will be able to grow two cannabis plants and possess up to 50 grams per person.

However, the sale or supply of cannabis is still a criminal offence.

The ACT law is in conflict with national laws on cannabis.

This story Push to legalise cannabis in Tasmania first appeared on The Examiner.