Jurisdictions around the world are continuing to relax restrictions on cannabis use for both medical and recreational purposes.
In Australia, lawmakers in the state of Victoria, which includes the city of Melbourne, are preparing to introduce legislation that would allow cannabis to be legally sold to adults as of Jan. 1, 2020. Fiona Patten, member of the state’s upper house and leader of the Reason Party, released a statement last week promising to introduce a bill in the next 12 months if her party wins the Nov. 24 state election. Legalization would add A$204-million a year to state coffers, according to the Victoria Parliamentary Budget Office, citing lower policing costs and higher tax revenue. Regardless of whether her party wins power, Ms. Patten has a track record of pushing through controversial legislation such as safe drug injection sites and buffer zones around abortion clinics.
“This is no pie-in-the-sky campaign promise,” she told Australia’s ABC News. “I will make this happen.”
The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, meanwhile, held final consultations Friday on The Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purposes Act of 2018. The bill, which has the support of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, would allow individuals to possess up to 15 grams of dried cannabis and to grow up to four marijuana plants for personal use. It would also allow Rastafarians and other religious groups to distribute marijuana at their respective places of worship. The last rounds of debate and a final vote are expected by early December, meaning the country of slightly more than 100,000 people could have legalization take effect before the end of this year.
And Bermuda is also moving to make marijuana more accessible in the British North Atlantic territory. The local government decriminalized possession of up to seven grams of dried cannabis last year and Michael Weeks, Bermuda’s Minister of Social Development, said in mid-2018 full cannabis legalization was among his top legislative priorities. David Burt, Bermuda’s Premier, said in a speech last month that the government would begin issuing Bermuda’s first cannabis cultivation licenses in early 2019 as the country does not currently allow any domestic cannabis production. Bruce Linton, co-CEO of Canopy Growth, flew to Bermuda to meet with Premier Burt on Nov. 22. “We invite companies like Canopy to invest in local entrepreneurs to create more jobs and partnerships in Bermuda,” Mr. Burt said in a twitter post that included photos of his meeting with Mr. Linton.