FILE PHOTO: Droplets of oil form on the surface of a Cannabis plant in a state-owned agricultural farm in Rovigo, about 60 km (40 miles) from Venice, September 22, 2014. Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo

The Greens are calling for the legalisation of cannabis for adult use. Party leader Richard Di Natale said the proposal would strictly regulate the sale and production of the drug and take it out of the hands of criminal dealers.

The plan is to redefine cannabis as a legal substance in a regulated market, redirecting resources into treatment. It would establish a new agency to issue licences for production and sale of the drug, as well as monitor and enforce licence conditions.

The reform would see up to six plants grown for personal use. The proposed Australian Cannabis Agency would impose strict penalties for the sale of unlicensed cannabis, sale of cannabis to under age consumers, and other breaches.

“The war on drugs has failed. Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. It’s time Australia joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use,” Di Natale said in a statement.

“We need to get real about cannabis. Almost seven million Australians have tried or used cannabis socially but right now just having a small amount of cannabis in your possession could get you a criminal record. Cannabis accounts for most illicit drug arrests across Australia, and each year, cannabis consumption and arrests are growing. Prohibition has failed. Using cannabis remains illegal, but this has not stopped Australians from using it.”

The senator added that the “tough on drugs” approach caused enormous harm rather than benefits. The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one.

The Australian Medical Association, however, said it could not support the party’s plan because cannabis use could cause serious physical and mental health impacts.

“Cannot support Greens’ proposal to legalise #Cannabis. We support their harm minimisation intent, believe that criminal penalties for personal use are unhelpful. But serious adverse physical and #mentalhealth impacts cannot be ignored #prevention #auspol,” AMA President Dr Michael Gannon wrote on Twitter.