Cannabis legalization bill reintroduced in S. Australia

A member of Australia’s Green Party has re-submitted a bill that proposes to legalize and regulate cannabis in South Australia. 

Cannabis Legalisation Bill 2022, introduced in South Australia’s legislative council on May 18, calls for the strict legalisation and regulation of cannabis.

The legislation had been originally introduced in November 2021, but had to be reintroduced in the newest session of Parliament, following an election in March of this year. 

The Act in many ways mirrors Canada’s legalization legislation—passed in 2018—which was framed around the idea of legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis in order to protect public health and safety. 

The Greens’ Bill, “An Act to legalize cannabis and cannabis products, to regulate the sale, supply and advertising of cannabis and cannabis products, to make related amendments to the Controlled Substances Act 1984, and for other purposes” often closely mirrors language used in Canada’s Bill C-45. 

To oversee all aspects of the new regulations and the commercial industry, the bill would create the South Australian Cannabis Agency. In addition to managing regulations, the agency would control all sales between producers and distributors—although if this means the agency would have a physical warehouse or only oversee these sales is unclear at this stage. The agency would also inspect licence holders.

health care issue and not a criminal issue which has seen some of the most vulnerable people in our communities criminalised when they should have been provided with the health care they needed.”

Tammy Franks MLC – SA Greens Upper House Member

The bill’s sponsor, Tammy Franks, shared this with StratCann late last year after the previous tabling of the Bill. 

“In drafting this piece of legislation we examined various forms of legalisation and regulation that have been proposed or are now operational. Whilst we did consider some international jurisdictions, such as Canada, the US and the Netherlands, we primarily considered proposed legislation within Australia such as the decriminalisation of cannabis which is now law in the Australian Capital Territory and recent attempts in Victoria. 

“Looking at international jurisdictions has been useful and has offered some guidance since no jurisdiction in Australia has yet fully legalised cannabis, however, due to the differences between these countries there were obvious limitations to this.”

“There is actually a lot of public support for the legalisation of cannabis, but those who are opposed do so very loudly. I would say that stigma remains a large hurdle to the legalisation of cannabis but mostly the antiquated views of the two major parties we have here in South Australia (the Labor party and the Liberals) who, despite broad public support, have both stated they will not be supporting the Cannabis Legalisation Bill 2021. Stigma can be addressed through public campaigns and education about the benefits and (often exaggerated but very real) harms of cannabis, safe use, and what to do if yourself or someone else is having an adverse reaction. The outdated views of the major parties will be much harder to overcome, however it is my hope that with this bill, the broad public support, and increasingly more cannabis-related studies, it becomes harder and harder for the major parties to legitimately oppose the legalisation of cannabis.”

“Prohibition on drugs does not work and it is time cannabis use in South Australia is treated as a health care issue and not a criminal issue which has seen some of the most vulnerable people in our communities criminalised when they should have been provided with the health care they needed.”

What’s in the Bill?

The proposed legislation seeks to create two separate licence categories overseen by the agency: one for production and one for distribution, as well as an agency to oversee the entire regulatory regime and commercial industry. 

A production licence would allow for all forms of commercial cultivation, importing seeds, research and analytical testing, as well as processing, packaging and labelling of commercial cannabis products. Commercial producers would have production limits.  

The proposed legislation seeks to create two separate licence categories overseen by the agency: one for production and one for distribution, as well as an agency to oversee the entire regulatory regime and commercial industry. 

A production licence would allow for all forms of commercial cultivation, importing seeds, research and analytical testing, as well as processing, packaging and labelling of commercial cannabis products. Commercial producers would have production limits.  

A cannabis distribution licence would allow for sales of cannabis plants, seeds (through a nursery licence) and cannabis products to the public via storefronts. It would also allow for on-site consumption in a retail setting under a special permit.

Like Canada, the bill also includes a micro-cultivation category for small-scale commercial cannabis production, although the details on this licence category are still undefined.

Holding both a production and distribution licence at the same time is not allowed. There is a $550 fee to be licensed, which is then paid again on an annual basis. Production licenses can last for up to five years, distribution licences up to one year. Licenses are not transferable.

The agency, if created, would also create an advisory board to develop strategies to—among other goals—“prevent the over-commercialisation of the cannabis industry, or domination by large-scale business in the cannabis industry,” as well as potentially establish THC limits on some products, and “develop and promote strategies for reducing the harm caused by cannabis.”

All labels on products sold would have to carry the South Australian Cannabis Agency seal, as well as THC and CBD levels and public health warnings. 

Age of access

No one under the age of 18 is allowed to consume, possess, or work with cannabis.

Home growing

The bill includes language that would allow a person to cultivate up to six cannabis plants as long as there are reasonable precautions made to prevent them from being accessed by the public. 

Clearing criminal records

The bill calls for a plan to allow those who have been convicted of certain minor crimes involving cannabis to potentially have their records cleared.

Advertising restrictions

Like Canada, under the proposed legislation advertising is allowed but only on a limited basis. A person with a cannabis distribution licence can advertise their retail business as long as it’s not promoting a specific product or giving information on price. Non-licence holders would be prevented from promoting cannabis products or brands. Fines for non-compliance are from $2,500 to $15,000.

Cannabis can also not be part of any prize or promotional giveaway, nor can anyone give away cannabis for the purpose of promotion. Sponsorships are also not allowed. 

No public consumption

Unlike Canada, the act would not allow anyone to consume cannabis in public. But retailers can apply for a licence that would allow consumption on site.


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