National Centre Directors inform government drug policy

June 2024

The Directors of two of Australia’s national alcohol and other drug research centres provided high-level expertise to a recent Parliamentary inquiry into cannabis regulation.

NDRI Director Professor Simon Lenton and NDARC Director Professor Michael Farrell were invited to give evidence to the Australian Parliamentary Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023.

While not expressing a view on whether cannabis should be legalised, Professor Lenton highlighted the proposed Bill is consistent with the developing research evidence on the impact of cannabis legalisation schemes and expert advice regarding the potential public health benefits of ‘middle-ground options’. However, he also noted major concerns about how the Federal Bill would operate, as domestic drug laws in Australia are state and territory matters.

Professor Lenton cautioned that if cannabis was legalised, legislators should be “mindful of not repeating mistakes that have been made with alcohol and tobacco” and allowing fully commercial profit-driven models.

Professor Michael Farrell, reported on the change in publc attitude to legislative change with an increase in support in the general population for legisliatve change. "A broader discussion ensued on the possible options for regulatory change and the complex interaction between Federal and Jurisdictional aspects of regulation."