Food, wine and weed: Greens' Bill flags SA cannabis tourism market

The Greens Bill sets out to legalise marijuana in South Australia - not just for medicinal use but also for recreational use. Picture: Shutterstock
The Greens Bill sets out to legalise marijuana in South Australia - not just for medicinal use but also for recreational use. Picture: Shutterstock

The Greens party has introduced a Bill to legalise marijuana in South Australia, but local MPs including Independent for Frome and Stuart candidate Geoff Brock are yet to see the paperwork.

Mr Brock, Port Pirie's MP, declined to comment on the Bill and how he would vote on it in parliament because it had yet to be flagged in the House of Assembly.

The Bill was introduced in the Upper House on November 17 by Tammy Franks, Member of the Legislative Council for the Greens South Australia.

She said the reform would allow people who need to access cannabis for medicinal purposes to do so more easily and "without the steep price tag and interminable bureaucracy that they are currently faced with".

"This is a compassionate reform. We have legalised medicinal cannabis, but we actually haven't made it accessible or affordable so people are still resorting to the black market.

"Patients are being criminalised and this would give them not only a way to relieve pain or other symptoms, but also a facility where they could get their oil tested to make sure it doesn't have dangerous mould and ensure they know exactly what is in their products."

The Bill would set up the Cannabis Licensing Agency that would take charge, and bear some resemblance to liquor licensing, in that it would require a licence for any commercial operations - whether that is production, manufacture or retail distribution.

Ms Franks said hemp trials in the Riverland had shown the plant grows well in SA. The market for marijuana in Australia is estimated to be about $4.5 billion.

"At present, pretty much all of that money goes into the black market. But imagine if that money was instead going into the community, if it was taxed so that we could use it to fund health and education programs? And further, imagine if local growers and businesses were seeing that money," she said.

The office of Energy and Mines Minister and Stuart MP Dan van Holst Pellekaan has not responded to a request for comment.

Liberal Mr van Holst Pellekaan and Mr Brock will contest the seat of Stuart at the election.

Ms Franks said: "Let's also consider the tourism potential as well, where we could have food, wine and weed from our clean, green environment as a tourism attraction. There are so many opportunities for communities and people in SA to benefit from legalisation."

She plans to refer the Bill to an inquiry in the next parliament sitting after the state election. This would allow residents to have their say.

"Our Parliament's Crime and Public Integrity Committee has recommended an inquiry into cannabis use in our state so I think MPs and the community alike are eager to have this conversation," she said.

This story 'Food, wine and weed' bid first appeared on The Recorder.