Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (28 November) . . Page.. 4942 ..
with public safety and intoxication. It will, as I have said previously, remain illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis, just as it is illegal to drive while drunk. As with the current drink-driving laws, these penalties dissuade most road users from driving while impaired by a substance. It will remain illegal to consume cannabis in a public place or around children.
On the other side of the argument—and I received a legitimate number of submissions on this; a crazy number, to be honest—some members of the community felt that this bill did not go far enough and wanted no restrictions on the number of plants, or other similar changes. I think that this bill strikes the right balance for the majority of community members. It is sensible and enforceable and will have a positive impact on Canberrans' lives. Most importantly, it is achievable under current federal laws.
Perhaps in the future we could consider setting up a market, like in the US, and directing the taxes from that towards better treatment and awareness programs. This would, however, require changes to federal laws. But for now, in this place and at this time, this bill is appropriate. The proposed bill is not some wacky, untested policy. It is a sensible step forward that has already been implemented in other jurisdictions. Canada has legalised the sale and possession of cannabis and just recently launched its market. New Zealand has also pledged a referendum on this issue for 2020. Currently, 10 states in the United States of America have legalised cannabis and most have gone the step further of setting up a market for this product.
My bill closely aligns with the Vermont model, where sale is illegal. While I have not decided to push for a taxed and regulated market for several reasons, I note that the Colorado market has hit sales of $1 billion and has raised $200 million in cannabis taxes. That is $1 billion taken out of the black market and $200 million pumped into schools and hospitals. These policies have been successful and they have helped to move states away from the harmful policies of the war on drugs.
It is time for our government to legalise cannabis for personal use. Our current laws are based on historical misinformation, old science and punitive ideas of justice. Sensible policy would treat cannabis like we do tobacco and alcohol, and not criminalise the 35 per cent of Australians that have used this substance. No-one should have their life ruined because they are caught with a small amount of cannabis.
Since I first announced this bill two months ago, I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Canberra community, and I thank each and every one of them for that. This is only possible because of your support. Canberrans want the current law to be changed. Let us continue to lead the country in implementing progressive social policy. I urge all members of this place to support this bill. This is a common-sense reform. Let us get it done.
Debate (on motion by Ms Fitzharris) adjourned to the next sitting.
Health, Ageing and Community Services—Standing Committee
MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.31): Pursuant to standing order 174, I move: