Is Cannabis Legal in Australia?

Is Cannabis Legal in Australia? Here’s everything you need to know about the current state of cannabis legislation Down Under.

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Cannabis is a popular drug in Australia, with a 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey showing that 18.3% of Australians aged 14 and over had used it in the last 12 months. Despite its widespread use, cannabis remains illegal in Australia except for limited medical and scientific purposes.

This means that possession and use of cannabis is punishable by law, with penalties varying from state to state. In some states, such as Tasmania and South Australia, entry into rehab or a first-time offenders program may avoid a criminal conviction altogether.

Cannabis possession and use is still illegal under federal law, despite a number of attempts to change this over the years. A private member’s bill introduced by David Leyonhjelm in September 2016 seeks to legalise the personal use of cannabis in small amounts, but it is unlikely to become law.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) does not support the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, however it has acknowledged that there are potential medical benefits of cannabis and supports clinical trials into its uses.

History of cannabis in Australia

Cannabis has been used in Australia for centuries, with the first known use dating back to the 19th century. It was introduced to the country by British settlers, who used it for both medicinal and recreational purposes. The plant was grown widely throughout the country and was even used as a currency in some regions.

In 1915, the Australian government passed the Poisons Act, which made cannabis illegal to possess or use. This law remained in place for nearly 60 years, until it was amended in 1972 to allow for medical and scientific research into the plant’s potential therapeutic benefits.

Cannabis remained illegal for recreational use until 2016, when the country’s parliament passed legislation to legalize its cultivation and sale. The law went into effect in 2017, making Australia one of the first countries in the world to fully legalize cannabis.

The current legal status of cannabis in Australia is that it is illegal to use, possess, cultivate or traffick the drug. However, individual Australian states and territories have their own laws and penalties for cannabis offences, which vary considerably.

In 2016, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise the possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. However, sale and supply of cannabis remains illegal in the ACT.

In January 2020, the state of Victoria passed legislation legalising the possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. The new laws are expected to come into effect in late 2020.

As of February 2020, possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal use remains illegal in all other Australian states and territories.

Pros and cons of legalising cannabis in Australia

Cannabis is currently illegal in Australia, but there is a growing movement to change this. Proponents of legalisation argue that it would allow the government to regulate and tax the drug, and that this would lead to reduced health risks and social harms. Opponents of legalisation argue that it would increase the availability of cannabis and lead to more people using it, which could in turn increase health risks and social harms.

There is no easy answer to this question, as there are pros and cons to both legalising and criminalising cannabis. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to make up their own mind on the issue.


Cannabis is not currently legal in Australia, but the government is considering changing the law to allow limited access for medical purposes. There is a growing movement to decriminalize cannabis use and possession for personal use, and many states have already decriminalized minor offenses.

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