Submission: Regulatory framework for cannabis in NSW

Cannabis is criminalised in New South Wales (NSW) with use, possession, cultivation and supply being the key offences. Cannabis has long been the most widely used illicit drug in Australia. In 2022–2023, 11.5% of people in Australia had used cannabis in the previous 12 months, around 2.5 million people. In comparison, the next most common illicit drugs (cocaine and ecstasy) were used by around 3% of Australians.

Decriminalisation typically involves the removal of a criminal penalty for using or possessing small amounts of drugs. While all Australian states and territories have some form of decriminalisation in practice, only three (ACT, SA and the NT) have decriminalised these offences in their laws.

There is widespread public support for moving away from a law enforcement approach to drug use in Australia. The latest Australian national drug strategy household survey found that the Australian public’s view of cannabis is growing more positive. In the latest survey, support for legalisation of cannabis has increased to 45%, and the proportion of people who believed that possession of cannabis should not be a criminal offence reached an all-time high of 80%.

NSWCCL supports decriminalisation coupled with regulation of cannabis across Australia. There is consistent evidence that decriminalisation doesn’t encourage drug use or increase drug taking in the community. In fact, decriminalisation may have the opposite effect, as more people are able to access advice, support and treatment for any problematic health issue resulting from drug use.

NSWCCL submits that regulation of cannabis would enable the government to maintain oversight of the cannabis market, preventing it from being dominated by large corporations and organised crime groups driven solely by profit and power. Through careful regulation, NSW could foster a diverse and competitive market that prioritises public health and social responsibility over corporate interests.

Read our submission here.