What is marijuana
Marijuana is a greenish, leafy substance that’s consumed for medicinal and recreational purposes. It is part of the Cannabis Sativa family of the cannabis plant.
Recreational cannabis users crave the psychoactive effects of its Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling the plant gives when consumed, commonly referred to as a “high”.
Another popular compound found in the marijuana plant is cannabidiol (CBD), which many medical users prefer because it lacks psychoactive effects and has many medicinal and properties. The plant has over 100 other compounds as well, or cannabinoids.
Marijuana has had a rough legal history around the world. But over the past decade, the global view has seen some changes, with many countries accepting its medicinal value and legalising it for that purpose.
Its recreational use has also been in the spotlight – many regions around the world have either legalised or decriminalised the plant for that purpose as well. For example:
- Uruguay became the first nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use back in 2013.
- Canada became the second country to do so in 2018.
- Over the years, 11 states in the United States have legalized cannabis for recreational use, and the current election has put recreational cannabis on the ballot in 4 more states this November.
- In 2018, South Africa’s Supreme Court issued an opinion that essentially legalized recreational cannabis possession.
- Mexico entered a judicial decision similar to South Africa’s as well, and recreational cannabis has been decriminalised in many European countries.
Legal status of marijuana in Australia
Australia has not been left behind on the legal cannabis trend. In 2016, cannabis was made legal for medical use. After many claims of cannabis being a great medicinal substance, it was predictable that cannabis would be legalised for that purpose at some point.
Here are a few of the many health conditions that marijuana has been proven to treat:
- Epileptic seizures
- Severe muscle spasms
- Severe chronic pain
- Side effects related to cancer treatments, such as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy
Australians can receive prescriptions from their doctors after approval, based on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) Special Access Scheme (SAS).
The process for obtaining a medical cannabis prescription, however, hasn’t been very smooth, but it has seen some improvement over the years. At first, many Australians waited months and months to get a prescription. But we’ve seen a month-over-month increase that shows the prescription system might be getting better.
The TGA has been approving more and more medical cannabis prescriptions. src
The case is a little different for recreational cannabis in Australia. While the drug is legal nationwide as a prescription medicine, different states and territories have different laws regarding recreational marijuana use.
Where is recreational marijuana legal in AU states
While cannabis isn’t legal on a national level in Australia, the states and territories are a bit lenient in how they handle small possessions of the drug.
Most states have decriminalised cannabis possession to an extent, opting for fines and/or diversionary programs instead of criminal sanctions that will leave a criminal record for those who are caught. One territory has even legalised the drug for recreational use.
But these lenient measures are highly dependent on the amount of cannabis in your possession when you are caught, and on whether you’re a user or dealer.
Here’s a closer look:
- Northern Territory
Recreational cannabis is decriminalised, resulting in up to a $200 fine if caught with 50 grams or less of marijuana.
- Western Australia
Marijuana possession was decriminalised in 2004, but that law was repealed in 2011.
- South Australia
Decriminalised for 100 grams of marijuana, which will land you a fine of $50 to $100.
Diversionary program for 50 grams or less of marijuana, but only once per person.
Caution for 50 grams or less, but only twice per person.
Caution if caught with 50 grams of marijuana or less, but only three times in 10 years.
- New South Wales
Caution if caught with 15 grams or less, but only twice per person.
- Australian Capital Territory
The only region in the country where recreational marijuana is legal, but only 50 grams or less of the drug. You can also cultivate up to two plants, or four plants per household.
An Australian marijuana map showing the different cannabis laws. However, WA has repealed its decriminalisation law, and the ACT legalised possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana. src
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the world. It is very common, and views surrounding its use have changed over the decades. Those changing views are now resulting in changed laws, so cannabis is not so vilified anymore. Instead, it is being hailed as a medicine in many parts of the world, and as legitimate as alcohol for recreational use in some parts of the world as well.