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Majority of Australians Support Cannabis Legalization, and Legislators are Taking Notice

Cannabis Legislation in Australia

For decades there has been a conversation in Australia about decriminalizing cannabis. Recent research now indicates that the majority (66%) of the Australian population supports decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Legislative trends toward legalization in Australia are picking up speed as community attitudes change.

Current Legal Status of Cannabis in Australia

Growing cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes was legalized under federal law in 2016. Low-THC hemp foods were then legalized federally in 2017. Recreational use, though, remains prohibited under federal law. Similarly, at the state and territory level it is mostly illegal to use, possess, grow, and sell cannabis.

Proposed Legislation for Legalizing Recreational Cannabis in Australia

If passed, the Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 would change the federal landscape. It would legalize cannabis for adult recreational use in Australia. The Bill would establish the Cannabis Australia National Agency as a statutory agency to register cannabis strains and regulate cannabis activities. These activities include growing and possessing plants, processing, manufacturing, and selling cannabis products, operating cannabis cafes, and importing and exporting cannabis products.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is presently conducting an inquiry into the Bill. The Bill is expected to be debated in federal parliament later this year. Despite shifting public attitudes federal legalization may still be a way off. The federal Bill has been promoted by a minority party and it does not have the support of the ruling party or the major opposition party. It also lacks the support of the Australian Medical Association.

Just as in the United States, cannabis legislation in Australia at the state level has been out of step with federal legislation, but there is rapid change afoot. Since 2020, possession of small amounts of cannabis, growing small numbers of plants, and using cannabis at home have been legalized in the Australian Capital Territory. The New South Wales parliament is now considering bills for legalization, including for medicinal users while driving. In Victoria, parliament is debating measures that would allow adults to legally possess small quantities of marijuana for personal use.

Australia’s state legislatures will move at different speeds on this issue, but undeniably they are moving quickly in response to public sentiment, which shows majority support for legalization of adult/recreational cannabis.

Preparing for Legalization in Australia

The trend toward Australia legalizing cannabis for adult/recreational use is clear, and with a population of over 25 million, Australia is expected to be an exciting market for cannabis businesses. Indeed, in 2018 the Australian Federal Parliamentary Budget Office found that taxing and regulating cannabis could provide up to $1.5 billion (USD) to the Australian economy annually.

As in other jurisdictions, medical cannabis is leading the way in Australia, and we have seen in other jurisdictions that the companies licensed to deliver medical cannabis products and services are often best positioned for when adult/recreational use is legalized. In other words, now is a good time for interested parties to think about moving forward with cannabis in Australia.

Today, the race is on for market share in the cannabis industry around the world as laws continue to change. Harris Sliwoski has a long history of providing international cannabis ventures with the legal planning, regulatory support, corporate and transactional guidance, and compliance strategies they need. Our lawyers – who have on-the-ground experience in more than two dozen countries – understand international laws, legal systems, regulatory environments, and the broader global trade context, and are well known for vetting, structuring, and closing complex cross-border transactions, including many involving cannabis. Many of us are leading speakers, thinkers, and advocates in the highly dynamic cannabis sector.

If you are contemplating a cannabis business venture of any kind in Australia, you will need legal support.

Legal Support for Cannabis Businesses in Australia

Our Australian Cannabis Services

Our Australia cannabis services include:

Harris Sliwoski’s bold, innovative, and connected approach has made us a leading name in international law, and we are staunchly committed to our clients’ success.

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Preparing for Legalization in Australia

Australia’s state legislatures will move at different speeds on cannabis legalization, but undeniably they are moving in response to public sentiment, which shows increasing support for legalization of adult/recreational cannabis;

The trend toward legalization for adult/recreational use of cannabis in Australia is clear, and with a population of over 25 million, Australia is an exciting market for cannabis businesses. Indeed, in 2018 the Australian Federal Parliamentary Budget Office found that taxing and regulating cannabis could provide up to $1.5 billion (USD) to the Australian economy annually.

As in other jurisdictions, medical cannabis is leading the way in Australia, and we have seen in other jurisdictions that the companies licensed to deliver medical cannabis products and services are often best positioned to thrive when adult/recreational use is legalized. As a result, now is a good time for interested parties to think about moving forward with their Australian cannabis plans.

Today, the race is on for market share in the cannabis industry around the world as laws continue to change. Harris Sliwoski has a long history of providing international cannabis ventures with the legal planning, regulatory support, corporate and transactional guidance, and compliance strategies they need. Our lawyers – who have on-the-ground experience in nearly two dozen countries – understand international laws, legal systems, regulatory environments, and the broader global trade context, and are well known for vetting, structuring and closing complex cross-border transactions. Many of us are leading speakers, thinkers, and advocates in the highly dynamic cannabis sector.

If you’re contemplating a cannabis business venture of any kind in Australia, you will need legal support.

Full-Service Planning for Legal Service Surrounding Cannabis in Australia

Our Services

Our Australia cannabis services include:

Harris Sliwoski’s bold, innovative and connected approach has made us a leading name in international law, and we are staunchly committed to our clients’ success.

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High Dive: Are We Creating "Big Marijuana"?

Hilary explains the far-reaching impacts of the Washington States historic 502 initiative, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. She explores the complex issues pertaining to big business entering into the marijuana industry.

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Our Clients' Successes

“Harris Sliwoski expertly guided us through the formation of our company. They continue to assist with necessary registrations and compliance with numerous regulations. They were able to promptly answer all our many questions and provide understandable options, explanations and practical advice. We expect to continue to use Harris Sliwoski on a regular basis as our company expands. They were also able to introduce us other professional experts. We would not hesitate to recommend Harris Sliwoski to any companies in need of legal advice.”

user icon Three Continents Foods LLC

This law firm was a huge help as our company went through the process of commercial licensing in the California cannabis industry.  They have helped us with a variety of legal issues in a timely fashion, while clearly communicating with us throughout the process.  Everyone we’ve worked with at Harris Sliwoski is an expert in their field and we have always felt that we were in good hands through our legal representation.

user icon Wil Crummer, CEO PRO Farms

Legal stuff is always scary. And I’ve had to play offense a couple times, begrudgingly. To have Harris Sliwoski have my back? It made things a lot less prickly. They quickly walked me through my options, and were refreshingly consistent in their communications, timing and billing. I’ve been lucky to stay out of the legal side of things my whole career, thankfully. When things went a little wrong, Harris Sliwoski quickly made things right.

user icon Aaron Draplin, Founder Draplin Design Co.

I am impressed with this law firm. They answered all my questions regarding cannabis businesses and the California cannabis framework, and they have helped me with a variety of legal issues in a timely fashion, while always clearly communicating with us throughout the process. They also redirected me to other quality people for my business needs. Everyone I worked with at Harris Sliwoski is an expert in their field, and I was in good hands throughout my legal representation.

user icon Corey T., CEO Thinc Cubed, LLC

I have been working with the lawyers at Harris Sliwoski for more than 20 years both as a business owner and as an executive at a large east-coast health system and that is because they have always efficiently provided high level and clear international law advice. Most recently, Harris Sliwoski provided legal support on many matters related to procuring medical products worldwide. Their support was particularly helpful to during the onset of COVID, when there was a big need for securing PPE quickly, all while navigating complicated international and domestic legal requirements. Harris Sliwoski’s team of international lawyers helped by conducting rapid-fire due diligence on potential suppliers, navigating the legal logistics for getting product from overseas and through U.S. customs, and drafting contracts to protect against various sorts of horribles. They did this by essentially providing what amounted to 24/7 service. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

user icon Dan Pak Hospital Supply Chain Executive

Harris Sliwoski has represented our company in the legal cannabis industry for years. Harris Sliwoski has advised us in a wide variety of legal matters, and they are truly experts in their field. I would highly recommend Harris Sliwoski to anyone with questions about cannabis law, or any legal matters. They have been great for our Company, and will continue to guide us as our industry evolves

user icon Matt Hurt, COO Cannabis Nation

You won’t find a better partner than Harris Sliwoski when trying to navigate the complex world of healthcare regulations.  They not only give sound and reliable legal advice, but they are also very responsive and are able to guide you in a way that helps you reach your business objectives as well.

user icon Joseph Axelrod, General Counsel Irwin Naturals

When we started the process of building a ‘seed to sale’ cannabis company in Oregon, we saw the need for expert legal counsel.  The cannabis sector is fraught with potential peril at every turn, and we wanted the best legal advice we could find.  After talking to several firms and individuals, we feel extremely fortunate to have chosen Harris Sliwoski as our legal counsel.

user icon Tony Theiss, CEO and Co-Founder Redbarn Cannabis 

We use Harris Sliwoski on all our international legal matters, including on our international litigation matters. We have over the last few years been involved in a couple big international legal disputes and Harris Sliwoski’s international dispute resolution team provided us with expert legal assistance on both matters. They were always very careful to explain to us what they were doing and why and what their actions would likely cost us in legal fees. Most importantly, we did extremely well on both cases and I have no doubt Harris Sliwoski was a big factor in that.

user icon Kevin English, CEO We Are Camp

We have used Harris Sliwoski for legal help related to our international manufacturing. The lawyers with whom I worked had extensive familiarity with the international legal issues involved in our various projects and offered us key insights. I particularly appreciated how they always quickly and efficiently do what they say they will do and always within their cost estimates.

user icon Andrea Barona Valladolid, Senior Legal Counsel Fairphone
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