Cannabis is trending globally
Cannabis has been trending for a while now. In the past couple of years alone, the world has seen Australia legalise the drug for medical use, New Zealand did the same last year, Canada legalised the plant for both medical and recreational use, South Africa did the same, several states in the United States have legalised the crop as well, and the list goes on and on.
Most recently, Canberra became the first city in Australia to legalise cannabis for recreational use. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) took matters into their own hands when both the Labor party and the Greens came together to vote Yes on the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018.
Unfortunately, only those in the ACT will be able to enjoy that legal recreational cannabis law, come January 31 of next year -- Aussies in other states will have to watch in envy.
However, Sydney might now be too far behind.
Sydney’s legal recreational cannabis outlook
New South Wales (NSW) doesn’t seem to be too far behind the ACT on the legal recreational cannabis agenda. Although the drug remains illegal for recreational use at the federal level, Prime Minister Morrison’s government seems satisfied with the Commonwealth having a hands-off approach for whichever states decide to go further than legal medical cannabis. This is even more likely, given the increasing public support for recreational cannabis legalisation throughout Australia.
Support for full cannabis legalisation continues to increase. Source: CannabisExpress
Earlier in the year, NSW was closing in on a legal recreational cannabis policy of their own. The Greens put forth a plan to tackle the legal recreational cannabis agenda in NSW within 100 days after the election.
NSW’s proposed framework would authorize those aged 18 and over to purchase cannabis, grow up to 6 cannabis plants, and use cannabis in public wherever cigarettes can be smoked.
And legal cannabis in NSW would mean legal cannabis in Sydney. For now, though, cannabis is only legal for medical use in Sydney.
How do I buy medical cannabis in Sydney?
You’ll need a prescription to purchase cannabis for medical purposes. The prescription process is a bit complicated, however.
First, in order to prescribe cannabis, your doctor must be an “authorized prescriber”. If your doctor doesn’t fall into this category, she/he would have to apply to the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) for a prescription on your behalf, through what’s referred to as the Special Access Scheme.
All in all, the complicated legal medical cannabis process means it takes a while for patients to get their hands on their medical cannabis. As a result, some simply avoid the hassle of the TGA’s process and get their cannabis through other means.
Can medical cannabis be purchased online in Sydney?
Any offers to sell you cannabis online in Sydney are likely scams. Wherever you purchase medical cannabis legally, a prescription is required. Websites that advertise medical cannabis for sale online lack the TGA’s prescription mechanisms. If you patronize such sites, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll lose your money and receive nothing in the mail.
However, the TGA makes an online purchase and mail exception for personal importation approved through the traveler’s exemption process. A patient who isn’t in Australia but has an approved prescription can get approval to receive cannabis form an overseas supplier, family member, or friend, through the TGA’s personal importation scheme.
How else can one buy cannabis in Sydney?
Like other Australian cities, cannabis is readily available in the underground black market. This means purchasing the drug on the streets of Sydney, where you just might run into some unsavory characters.
Despite the nature of the underground drug market -- gangs, violence, etc. -- purchasing cannabis on the streets is quite common. Even surveys taken back in 2013 (back when cannabis wasn’t as accepted as it is today) show 35% of Australians had used cannabis in their lifetime.
Even back in 2013, over one-third of Australians had used cannabis in their lifetime. Source
Thus, Aussies have been purchasing cannabis from the black market for a while now, and so the drug is readily available on Sydney’s streets. However, doing so comes with a number of obvious risks.
How much is cannabis in Sydney?
Legal medical cannabis is expensive in Australia. Even though the prices were cut in half last year, epilepsy patients still pay around $1,000 per month for their cannabis treatments.Pain patients make up the vast majority of the medical cannabis consumer market, and they shell out around $350 per month.
As stated, those in need of medical cannabis often abandon the legal process and go to the black market. The average price for an ounce of high quality cannabis in Sydney’s black market is over $300. An ounce of medium quality cannabis costs under $280, while a quarter ounce of the same costs under $70 in Sydney.
What if one gets caught with illegal cannabis in Sydney?
The penalties for possessing cannabis illegally aren’t too harsh in Sydney. If you’re caught with up to 15 grams, you could get a caution from the police. The caution simply involves the officer giving you information about the negatives of cannabis use, and possibly some information regarding where to get help. You can only receive two cautions, after which the harsher results might be the case.
Medical cannabis is legal throughout Australia, including Sydney. But with the current trend of global cannabis legalisation, recreational cannabis might soon be legal in Sydney as well. Earlier this year, NSW announced its plan to legalise the drug for recreational use. With the ACT recently following through with a legal cannabis law, NSW (and Sydney, as a result) might be next in line.