The new policy will allow up to six marijuana plants to be grown for personal use.
The new policy will allow up to six marijuana plants to be grown for personal use.

NT could consider decriminalising marijuana

DECRIMINALISING recreational marijuana use is no longer an off-limits topic, according to Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

The Government on Monday released the terms of reference for its parliamentary inquiry into drug and alcohol harm minimisation strategies.

Mr Gunner said widespread decriminalisation in the US meant the idea wasn't as controversial as it once was.

"I don't think it's beyond the realms of discussion anymore about how you could do it and how you could manage it," he said. The Sunday Territorian this week revealed Mr Gunner's plan to legislate to introduce an industrial hemp industry in the NT.

Talks are also underway for the commercial cultivation of medicinal marijuana.

"I do think (decriminalisation) is going to become a more common topic in Australia and at the moment we have shown we are not as progressive as other parts of the world," he said. "We're probably behind the conversation in some respects in how you handle drugs in this country."

Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said he supported the plan to cultivate marijuana for medical use, but was unconvinced of the need to decriminalise the drug for recreational use.

"I don't think there's scientific evidence around that says it will make an improvement to the way that people live and the problems we have at the moment," he said.

Decriminalisation of marijuana use is supported by the NT branch of the Australian Medical Association, but its president Rob Parker has warned against fully legalising the drug.

Last year, the UN and World Health Organisation called on member states to review and repeal "unitive laws that have been proven to have negative health outcomes", including "drug use or possession of drugs for personal use".