Australian government report reveals its options for legalizing cannabis

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THE Parliamentary Budget Office Australia’s PBO, which advises parliament on the budget, recently released a report exploring two options on how to approach cannabis legalization. He was tasked with exploring what legalization might look like at the request of Senator David Shoebridge and the Australian Greens party.

According to the PBO report, the first option foresees the creation of the Cannabis National Agency (CANA), which would act as the sole wholesaler between producers and retailers, set wholesale cannabis prices and issue licenses to potential cannabis business owners. Ideally, the agency would be funded entirely by production and retail licensing.

This option would legalize cannabis for anyone aged 18 and over, with no restrictions on how much a person can buy. This approach would also create penalties for selling to underage people, as with alcohol. Cannabis would be available to “overseas visitors”, and residents would be allowed to grow up to six plants. Finally, recreational 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 contains all the provisions of the first option, except for the final recommendation, which would increase the excise tax to 15% instead of 25%.

The report explains that this approach would be similar to Canada’s cannabis law. In Canada, residents can grow up to four plants at home (except in Quebec and Manitoba), cannot smoke in public, and are limited to possession of 30 grams.

The PBO predicts the country could collect up to A$28 billion in tax revenue from cannabis in the first decade of legalization.

According to New Zealand HeraldSenator Shoebridge suggested that tax revenues be used to fund Job Seekerthe local Pôle Emploi, and to increase the financial assistance provided by the employment service Youth Allowance. He also suggested that tax revenue from cannabis could help build more than 88,000 social housing units over the next decade, providing more than 250,000 people with shelter.

“This PBO figure shows the incredible opportunity that legal cannabis creates not only to reduce harm but also to generate revenue that could be invested in health, education and public housing,” Shoebridge said.

“The Greens model creates a right for adults to grow up to six plants at home without being taxed and without having to pay. This figure takes this into account. It also secures business opportunities for local cooperatives and entrepreneurs to grow and sell cannabis, including through regulated cannabis cafes. »

He also explained that legalization just makes sense.

“Legal cannabis makes enormous social and economic sense. When we legalize cannabis, we take billions away from organized crime, the police and the criminal justice system and we can then spend it on schools, housing, hospitals and welfare,” Mr Shoebridge said. .

Moreover, he added that legalization would reduce the damage caused by criminal injustice, and that overall, polls have found that most Australians are supportive of cannabis and use it regularly.

“It is a fact that almost half of adult Australians have used cannabis at some time. The laws that make nearly half the country criminals don’t pass the pub test,” Shoebridge said.

“When you legalize cannabis, you can properly regulate the market, provide consistent health and safety guidance, and make the product safer. Right now, the only ‘safety regulators’ for the cannabis market are motorcycle gangs and organized crime, and that doesn’t make much sense. »

Commercial cultivation could begin in Australia as early as July 2023 if the PBO plans are passed, which would ensure cannabis supply is well ahead of demand. Applications for production and retail licenses could begin as early as 2023 or 2024, with hopes of launching sales in 2024 or 2025.

A few Australian provinces have already taken the step of decriminalizing cannabis and other drugs.

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