Re-elected MP Fiona Patten has put drug law reform at the top of her political agenda by introducing a bill to legalise marijuana in Victoria, which she hopes will gain the support of the new Parliament.
Ms Patten wants cannabis legalised so that it can be cultivated and manufactured while subject to regulation.
She will introduce the private member’s bill to the Victorian Parliament’s upper house on Wednesday afternoon – the first sitting day of the new Parliament.
The change would contribute $204.6 million to Victorian coffers over four years, Ms Patten argued.
“Currently it is easier for our children to buy cannabis than cigarettes and the revenue is going straight to criminals,” she said.
“Legislation will not only change that but it will also bring an extra $204.6 million in revenue and improved health outcomes. Let’s take this money out of the hands of criminals and use it to build a better Victoria.”
The Reason Party MP was instrumental in bringing about significant changes in legislation during the previous Parliament, including a supervised drug injecting room, protest buffer zones at abortion clinics and voluntary euthanasia.
Ms Patten’s new focus on legalising cannabis comes after Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalise access to medical marijuana to treat seriously ill children.
She said Victoria was now ready for laws to allow cannabis to be legalised and be subject to taxes for cultivation and manufacturing.
“I’m hoping that by the end of this term we’ll have legal cannabis,” she said. “Across the world communities are making this change and it is time for Victoria to yet again lead the way in this historic reform.”
The Greens will also move to change Victorian laws, calling on the government to support a national scheme to legalise recreational cannabis for adult use.
The party’s health spokesman Tim Read said under the Greens’ plan cannabis would be regulated and taxed.
Ms Patten also unveiled plans to introduce another bill on spent convictions that would wipe clean someone’s record if they had not committed another offence after a specified period of time.