Cannabis won’t be legal straight away after the referendum. Once the election is finished, the votes for the referendum will be counted. If there are more than 50% yes votes, the government will introduce the Bill to parliament.

First reading

The Cannabis Bill will then be read to parliament in a first reading. It is here that it will be initially debated in parliament. If it is mainly agreed upon, the Bill will then be referred to a “select committee”.

Select Committee

A Select Committee is a small group of MP’s (usually between 6 and 12) which are broadly representative of the parties in parliament. Their job is to examine all aspects of the Bill and its implications. It is in this part of the process that the public will be invited to make submissions. This means you can write in with your opinion on the Bill that came out of the parliamentary reading, for it to be taken into consideration. It is very likely that you will also be able to watch the Select Committee as they examine the Bill, either in person or online. Usually the Select Committee process takes about six months. After this time they will collate a report which will contain any amendments they would like to make to the Bill, and explanations of why they decided upon those changes.

Second reading whole house committee and third reading

The Select Committee will bring their report to parliament where it will again be read. If there are amendments that were not decided upon unanimously by the Select Committee they will be voted on in parliament after the second reading.

The next step is a “committee of the whole house” where any member of parliament can debate and make small speeches on any aspect of the Bill. This process can sometimes take a few days. Once the Bill is agreed upon and amended if necessary, there is a third and final reading in parliament.

Bills are unlikely to be rejected if they make it through to a third reading, but this the last chance for MPs to debate it, before it’s final form is passed to the governor general to sign. Once the Bill has been signed by the governor general, it becomes law.

Guest Blog by Angelina Stanton