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The Sex Party's Fiona Patten on Why Australia Needs to Legalise Recreational Weed

Australia might be called the lucky country, but luck has not been with the Victorian people when it comes to cannabis. Despite being one of the most progressive Australian states, with one of the most progressive state governments in the country, cannabis is still perceived by the Victorian Government as largely harmful to society. As a Victorian MP and leader of the Australian Sex Party, I've long advocated for change, with taxation and regulation of cannabis a founding party policy. I even moved a motion in the Victorian upper house earlier this year to try and make that happen. The six-to-32 loss did, at least, start a conversation about the lack of rational for keeping cannabis illegal. Laws allowing only medicinal cannabis passed last year in Victoria. Eligibility is limited though to a small cohort of severe epilepsy sufferers under 18 years old. The state government justified the limitation on a lack of supply. I dispute that.

Once the regulatory system was in place, Victorian farmers should've been licensed to immediately start production, particularly with changes by the federal government in September allowing private cultivation licenses. So far no moves have been made to widen medicinal cannabis eligibility in Victoria, even though 91 percent of Australians believe it should be legal. I have introduced a new motion into Parliament, aiming to widen eligibility in line with the Victorian Law Reform Commission's recommendations to include patients with severe pain, nausea, spasms or seizures from multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and epileptic conditions. More than 30 percent of Australians support full legalisation of cannabis. Even so, none of Australia's cash-strapped governments have had the courage to follow the example set by some states in the US. With the political will, Victoria could go from wasting millions on enforcement to supporting everyone—from farmers to entrepreneurs—with new industries, while also providing much needed tax revenue.

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