ACT becomes the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalize the personal use of cannabis after the new laws came into force on Friday. As of today, 31 January 2020, it is legal to smoke a joint in your living room in Canberra. Possessing up to 50 grams for personal use has absolutely nothing to fear. And you can grow up to two plants in your garden if you live in the Australian Capital Territory. However, you can’t sell your production, nor can you give it to someone else.
Cannabis advocates across the country salute Michael Pettersson, ACT Labour MPP, and the steps he has taken to turn an illegal plant within 12 months into a legal substance for recreational use.
In September last year, ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to pass legislation to legalize the personal use of cannabis.
Adults can grow two plants per person and four plants per household, with a limit of 150 grams of “wet” cannabis. Users must ensure that the plants are not accessible to the public or children. But unlike in other jurisdictions around the world, including Canada and parts of the United States, the sale or supply of cannabis remains a criminal offense. This is not the first time that laws introduced by the territory have come into conflict with federal laws. Authorities have, however, warned that new Australian laws in the captive territory conflict with federal legislation.
The federal government has stated that it does not support new cannabis laws in the Australian Capital Territory and may use the Australian Federal Police to enforce Commonwealth law.
Under the new laws, Canberra residents may possess 50 g of dried cannabis or 150 g of undried cannabis. Whereas last week, if an adult was caught with a plant, he would be fined $160, from Friday he will not be penalized. On the other hand, people who share a joint or give their friends any amount of cannabis commit the offense of “supplying a prohibited substance” which can result in a maximum penalty of $80,000 and/or five years in prison.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the change symbolizes an evolution in the jurisdiction’s approach to drug reform.
I think it reflects the values of this community that we want our law enforcement to focus on organized crime and the large-scale production of illicit drugs and that we do not want to penalize or stigmatize users, particularly small recreational users,” he said. SBS News.
Dr. Nicole Lee of the National Drug Research Institute supports the change and says it will be easier for drug users to seek help.
The war on drugs has created and maintained a level of stigma around drug use in general and will continue as long as the criminalization of drug use continues,” Dr. Lee told SBS News.
One of the main benefits of decriminalization and legalization is that it moves from a criminal justice issue to a health and human rights issue.