Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Commonwealth Restrictions on Cannabis) Bill 2018; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.
I table an explanatory memorandum and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
I introduce the Criminal Code and Other Legislation Amendment (Removing Commonwealth Restrictions on Cannabis) Bill 2018.
Adults should be free to make their own choices, as long as they do not harm others.
Accordingly, this Bill removes offences and civil penalty provisions in Commonwealth law for dealings with cannabis.
The Bill amends the Criminal Code Act 1995. It prevents cannabis, including any product obtained from a cannabis plant, from being defined as a controlled or border controlled drug. In so doing the Bill excludes dealings with cannabis from the serious drug offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code. For completeness, the Bill amends the Criminal Code Regulations 2002 so that cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) are no longer listed as controlled and border controlled drugs.
The Bill amends the Crimes (Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act 1990. It removes cannabis and THC from the Act's definition of narcotic drug, and removes dealings in cannabis and THC from the Act's definition of dealing in drugs. Together this serves to remove dealings with cannabis from the Act's offence provisions.
The Bill amends the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 to remove what will be redundant references to cannabis, while maintaining the existing disciplinary consequences for dealings with other drugs.
The Bill amends the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967. It repeals Chapter 2 of the Act, which establishes medicinal cannabis licences and imposes offences and civil penalties for dealings with cannabis that are not authorised by such licences. The Bill also amends Chapter 3 of the Act, which establishes drug manufacture licences and imposes offences and civil penalty provisions for dealings with drugs that are not authorised by such licences. Chapter 3 is amended so these licences and the associated offences and civil penalty provisions do not apply with respect to dealings with cannabis.
The Bill also amends the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 so that the Poisons Standard established by the Act does not apply in relation to cannabis. This will be consistent with the non-application of the Poisons Standard to nicotine in tobacco prepared and packed for smoking. It will also ensure that the Act cannot be used as a vehicle to ban cannabis.
The Bill commences a year after Royal Assent, allowing time for state and territory governments to choose to maintain or alter their own laws relating to cannabis. They may maintain their bans on cannabis, with exemptions for medicinal use, if they choose. Alternatively, they may legislate to allow broader use and to regulate with respect to various matters such as children and driving.
The Bill does not introduce a cannabis tax. Existing alcohol and tobacco taxes are not sound policy and should not be replicated.
I commend the Bill to the Senate.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.