'Prohibition has failed': Push to legalise weed in NSW
People could grow up to a dozen cannabis plants per household under a Greens proposal to legalise and regulate recreational cannabis in the next term of NSW parliament.
The Greens' election platform proposes establishing a "NSW cannabis authority" to regulate the market and reduce harms.
The party also wants to extinguish past cannabis convictions and reform mobile drug testing to gauge impairment rather than the presence of cannabis .
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann says legalisation of cannabis is long overdue.
"Prohibition has well and truly failed and governments all around the world are finally accepting this fact," she said on Wednesday.
"Cannabis poses much less harm to individual users and to our society compared to alcohol, tobacco and many prescription drugs."
A legalised cannabis market could bring in $6.5 billion in revenue for NSW over a decade, according to the federal Parliamentary Budgetary Office, and Ms Faehrmann says it would keep young people safe.
The proposal comes as peak legal bodies recommended an end to punitive approaches to minor drug offences.
The Law Society of NSW and the NSW Bar Association say the state government should implement pre-court diversion schemes for minor drug offences in accordance with recommendations from the 2020 ice inquiry.
The special commission found diversion programs, which move offenders away from the traditional criminal justice system, can effectively reduce drug crime.
By addressing the underlying causes of offending behaviour, they interrupt the cycle of crime, imprisonment and reoffending that weighs on the lives of the vulnerable.
NSW Bar Association president Gabrielle Bashir called on the government to reform laws for young offenders and remove the arbitrary exclusions that prevent them from accessing warning, caution and youth conferencing schemes.
"Subjecting children to strip searches and drug detection dogs is not the answer," she said.
While the government supported pre-court diversion in principle, Attorney-General Mark Speakman said last year the government would only implement the scheme when support services were advanced enough to expand the programs.
The government has committed half a billion dollars over four years to fund rehabilitation services and justice initiatives.
It will make a decision on pre-court diversion schemes after the NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant and Police Commissioner Karen Webb pass down advice in June.
NSW Labor has yet to outline a specific drug policy but shadow attorney-general Michael Daley says the party will hold a drug summit in its first term bringing together health and legal experts along with relevant community groups and members of the public.
Other states have made significant strides on drug reform.
Queensland has flagged plans to run at least one drug-checking trial site after tabling legislation to decriminalise illicit drug possession, while the ACT has sanctioned a fixed pill-testing site.