Cannabis Use Legalised By Australian Capital Territory

, Cannabis Use Legalised By Australian Capital Territory

Cannabis Use Legalised By Australian Capital Territory

In Australia, cannabis possession and use are currently illegal. But in several states and territories a small amount for personal use is decriminalised. That means it’s illegal, but not a criminal offence.

Cannabis has now been decriminalised in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT has just become the first jurisdiction in the nation to legalise cannabis for personal use, with its Parliament passing a private members bill by Labor MP Michael Pettersson.

The government has warned possessing and growing the drug could still carry a risk of prosecution.

THE NEW LEGALISATION LAWS

It was reported possessing and growing cannabis for personal use will become legal in Australia’s capital. The laws, which don’t come into effect until 31 January 2020, were passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.

They will allow Canberrans who are over the age of 18 to possess 50 grams of cannabis and grow two plants.

The ACT attorney-general, Gordon Ramsay, told the assembly it was time to treat drug addition like a health issue rather than an issue of “right and wrong”, which is why the laws would be accompanied by more drug and alcohol services and the introduction of specific drug courts.

He acknowledged possessing and growing cannabis would remain a federal offence, and the risk of prosecution was “not entirely removed”, but “in practice” the laws would not apply.

Amendments made to the original bill require cannabis to be kept out of reach of children, and bar adults from using it near children or growing it in community gardens.

CONCERNS ABOUT THE LEGISLATION

The Federal government and Liberal opposition would not be supporting legalising cannabis for recreational use as they argue that it is badly drafted and would lead to a number of “perverse outcomes”.

It is also argued that it may encourage more people to use cannabis – which medical professionals say would lead to increased rates of psychosis – and more people would be charged with drug-driving.

And the fact it conflicted with commonwealth law would be confusing for police.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…

Before you pack your things and head to the ACT, here’s everything you need to know!

HOW MUCH ARE YOU ALLOWED TO HAVE?

Provided you are over 18, you’ll be allowed to possess up to 50 grams of the marijuana and grow two plants for your personal use. With a maximum of four plants allowed at each residence.

WILL YOU BE ABLE TO BUY WEED AT THE SHOPS?

There will be no pop up stores, in case you were planning a trip to Canberra hoping to try the city’s soon-to-be legalised produce.

In fact, it is illegal to buy or share someone else’s joint (even if no money is involved!).

ACT chief police officer Ray Johnson warned that “if there’s evidence that someone is providing cannabis to someone else, that’s supply and that’s an offence,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

WHERE CAN I SMOKE?

Smoking in public places will be illegal and you are only free to spark up in your own home.

CAN I TAKE SOME HOME WITH ME?

It is illegal everywhere else in Australia, so the simple answer is definitely not. So, if you attempt to take any out, you could be fined and in serious cases even jailed.

WHAT’S THE CATCH?

Even though the intoxicating herb will be legal on 31 January 2020, you could still be prosecuted under Commonwealth laws for having some on you.

If you’re found to have any, it’s assumed that it will be up to the police officer who stops you to make a call on whether you’re breaking the law or not.

However, it’s not entirely clear what would happen in this situation at this point in time.

On the Today show, federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the uncertainty over the legality of weed use in Canberra showed Australia needed a uniform approach to the drug.

“There are concerns that the federal police could still intervene in the ACT, so what we need is a national approach,” he said.

However, ACT’s chief minister has shrugged off concerns Canberrans will be targeted by federal prosecutors.

Andrew Barr says the laws will free police up to focus on large-scale cultivation and drug networks.

“Does anyone seriously think the Commonwealth DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) is going to spend all of their time, or a considerable amount of their time, prosecuting individuals in the ACT for the possession of less than 50 grams of cannabis?” he told ABC’s Radio National on Thursday.

“It’s one thing for police to arrest someone, it’s another thing to successfully prosecute someone.”

The existence of the ACT legislation is a defence if people are charged under Commonwealth laws, Mr Barr says.

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