Greens vow cannabis reform if successful

·3-min read

The Australian Greens are promising to reform cannabis laws and push for a ban on new fossil fuel projects in Bass Strait if the minor party secures the balance of power at the federal election.

Cannabis laws needed reform after decades of punitive policy at the state and federal levels, the federal party said on Monday.

"Much of the rest of the world has moved on to legalise cannabis and it's high time Australia did the same," Greens NSW Senate candidate David Shoebridge said ahead of a policy launch in the NSW Northern Rivers town of Nimbin.

Regulation and taxation on legalised cannabis would make it safer for adults who use it, take money away from criminals and divert it to infrastructure like hospitals and schools, he said.

"When the government controls the supply and quality of cannabis, it is also able to provide health support for intervention or problematic use where needed," Mr Shoebridge said.

Some 36 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 have used non-medicinal cannabis, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data for 2019, with 11.6 per cent having consumed it in the previous twelve months.

Those people should not be considered criminals, according to the Greens.

Many people in the community use cannabis and a regulated industry could raise $4.4 billion in revenue, Greens candidate for Page, which includes Nimbin, Kashmir Miller said.

Under the Greens plan, adults would be able to grow six plants at home for personal use or buy from cannabis retail shops.

Licences to produce or sell cannabis would go through an Australian Cannabis Agency, which would also act as the single wholesaler.

Advertising would be banned and the cannabis sold in plain packaging like cigarettes.

Those selling without a licence would still be open to penalty.

The party also wants a freeze on offshore gas exploration, including ConocoPhillips and 3D Oil's plans to drill northwest of Tasmania near King Island.

"To reach even the weak target of net zero by 2050, not one single new coal, oil or gas project can be built," Greens leader Adam Bandt said on Monday.

Mr Bandt said the 3D Oil project had the potential to release 545 million tonnes of carbon dioxide if the estimated 10 trillion cubic feet of gas in the permit area was burned.

"More pollution than all of Australia emits for a whole year," he said.

"The people of Tasmania don't want it, it endangers fisheries and coasts and it totally fails the climate test".

Mr Bandt called on Labor and the coalition to commit to stopping the project before the election on May 21.

In February, the Morrison and NSW governments rejected a proposal to drill for gas in NSW waters off Manly and Newcastle following significant community opposition.

Labor also supported rejecting the exploration permit.

"If opposing a fossil fuel project due to community consensus was good enough for progressive NSW electorates then it's good enough for Tassie," Greens Senator for Tasmania Peter Whish-Wilson said.

"New Zealand, Greenland, Spain, Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Belize and Portugal have all implemented bans on new oil and gas exploration - there is no reason Australia shouldn't do the same."

ConocoPhillips Australia and 3D Oil's exploration permit is located west of King Island and covers 4960 square kilometres of the offshore Otway Basin.

ConocoPhillips Australia is the operator and holds an 80 per cent interest and 3D Oil holds the remaining 20 per cent.

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