Canberra Liberals to overturn cannabis laws if elected

Lachlan Roberts 17 October 2019 68
cannabis laws

Jeremy Hanson said he has spoken with the Federal Government about the ACT’s cannabis laws but said he had not asked them to intervene. Photo: File.

Canberra Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson said he would be concerned if his Federal counterpart tried to overrule the ACT Government’s cannabis laws, but says that the Canberra Liberals will overturn the controversial bill if they are elected in the 2020 ACT Election.

Commonwealth Attorney-General Christian Porter has the power to overturn the ACT Government’s cannabis laws, which allows the individual possession of up to 50 grams of dry cannabis, 150 grams of fresh cannabis and two plants, prompting ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay to write to Mr Porter on Monday (14 October), warning him not to overrule or intervene in the ACT’s “democratic process”.

“The Act has been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly as a self-governing body with the authority to make laws for people in the ACT,” the letter reads.

“I reiterate my previous advice that this legislation expresses the will of the ACT people and convey my deep concern should the Commonwealth seek in any way to overrule and intervene in the democratic processes of the ACT.”

Mr Hanson said he has spoken with the Federal Government about the ACT’s cannabis laws but said he had not asked them to intervene.

“I have had some brief conversations but I have not asked them to intervene in any sense,” Mr Hanson told Region Media. “The correspondence from the Federal Health Minister and the Federal Attorney-General has not been at our request and they did that entirely independent of us.

“I am very strong on territory rights and I don’t like it when the Federal Government overrules ACT legislation.”

But Mr Hanson said it was “nonsense” for Mr Ramsay to describe the cannabis laws, which will come into effect on 31 January 2020, as the “will of the people”.

“The fact that the Government had to move 15 amendments indicates how poorly this bill was drafted,” Mr Hanson said. “This bill is more about an individual MLA trying to get political attention and notoriety, rather than a compelling need for change.

“This was really a squabble between Labor and the Greens to see who would be the first to legalise cannabis.

“There was really no evidence put forward by anyone that this was a good idea. Medical groups, lawyers and even the Australian Federal Police Association considered the bill to be flawed from both a health and legal aspect.”

Mr Hanson said a number of people have contacted his office to share their “harrowing stories” of the effect that cannabis has had on their own families. He is concerned that the ACT Government has “condoned cannabis and made it more available for young people”, describing the new bill as reckless.

“We are going to have a situation where more young people are potentially in harm’s way and I am really disappointed that the government has gone down this track,” Mr Hanson said.

Mr Hanson said the Canberra Liberals would reinstate the current legislation if they form government next year because the current laws “strikes the right balance”.

“We don’t want to see people with small amounts of cannabis for recreational use getting caught up in the legal system,” Mr Hanson said.

“The current bill strikes the right balance between making sure that cannabis is still seen as a potentially dangerous substance while ensuring the legal response to that is impunitive.

“We would like to revert to the existing laws which have been working very satisfactorily for quite a period of time, and we will do that if we form government.”

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68 Responses to Canberra Liberals to overturn cannabis laws if elected
Declan Chanter Keating Declan Chanter Keating 6:20 pm 19 Oct 19

They do it to themselves. They could actually try being liberals in the ACT and focusing on a better fiscal policy, but they’re too hung up on various socially conservative ideas that don’t go down well with the public here.

Daryl Hehir-Nielsen Daryl Hehir-Nielsen 10:47 pm 18 Oct 19

Not a chance of being elected now.

Tim Primmer Tim Primmer 12:28 pm 18 Oct 19

Snowballs chance in hell of that Happening 🤔

Warren Huggett Warren Huggett 8:24 am 18 Oct 19

Because they are stupid.

Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 10:40 pm 17 Oct 19

I keep hearing that Canberra has the smartest and best-informed community in the country. And then I read the comments on articles such as this one in the Riot Act and wonder how this impression became so widespread. Could I ask what is so great about regular high-volume cannabis use? Is it the slightly skewed personal ambience it produces? Is it the well-publicised risk of mental health problems up to and including schizophrenia? Or is it the fact that users can imagine themselves to be John, Paul, George, Ringo, Mick, Keith or any other celebrity users who have had ready access to quality medical support? At the very least, it is arguable that a high degree of caution needs to be exercised in this area and that seems to me to be what the Libs are advocating. Could I ask the enthusiastic pot proponents infesting this comments segment whether, knowing what we now know, they would have supported the legal, widespread and high-volume usage of cigarettes? Would they have been quite so keen on alcohol given its potential for highly dysfunctional social and health effects? If there was a prize for being one-eyed, Canberrans and, in particular, many of those commenting on this article would really be in the running.

    Grimm Grimm 10:02 am 18 Oct 19

    The discussion is beneficial yo see who all the drugos are. Makes vetting candidates for employment easy.

    petunia petal petunia petal 1:03 pm 18 Oct 19

    The Conversation has a good article on this – evidence and fact based. Ive never smoked cannabis, but I’m all for evidence based policy making and listening to experts. Isn’t that what this all about? Looking at other jurisdictions and seeing what happened? Let’s keep these people out of the courts and i’m sure the police would prefer not to investigate these matters. The Liberals just want to rule on ideology. As for Canberrans being smarter? hmmm we still haven’t figured out senate voting because Zed got back in.

    Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 1:55 pm 18 Oct 19

    Petunia, I’d have said the real question mark over Canberrans’ alleged smartness is their practice of returning Barr and Co again and again.

    Lee V'me-Alone Lee V'me-Alone 2:00 pm 18 Oct 19

    “Could I ask the enthusiastic pot proponents infesting this comments segment whether, knowing what we now know, they would have supported the legal, widespread and high-volume usage of cigarettes? Would they have been quite so keen on alcohol given its potential for highly dysfunctional social and health effects?”

    Actually, if you look into most articles/stories on legalizing cannabis in Australia, most of the supporters use cigarettes and alcohol as examples of why it is ridiculous that cannabis is illegal, as it is far safer than either of them. People have been using cannabis for thousands of years, and there are no recorded deaths.

    Mike of Canberra Mike of Canberra 11:23 pm 18 Oct 19

    Lee, this isn’t about pot potentially causing deaths. Rather, it goes to various health issues, especially pertaining to mental functioning. While I’d never place pot in the same risk category as heroin or acid, there’s little dispute it does impair the mind’s operation for a while at least. The question is whether we need to add to the range of things that can do that or, indeed, whether we bow to the already widespread use of pot.

    Lee V'me-Alone Lee V'me-Alone 2:26 pm 19 Oct 19

    You can’t even place it in the same risk category as alcohol or cigarettes. It is far less dangerous and the research has been done and there countless long-term users in the world. We have known about cannabis for a very long time.

    Like you said – it is already widely used and has been for a long time. This fight is over, it’s just a matter of when.

    Adults deserve to have a safer alternative to alcohol.

Lee Davis Lee Davis 9:46 pm 17 Oct 19

I can't stand Jeremy Hanson. He was strongly and vocally opposed during the whole parliamentary inquiry, and has now not shut up about it since it was passed. Accept defeat and stop trying to control us, Jeremy. Honestly, if this is what keeps you up at night, you're a really, really sad person. Legalizing cannabis should be a very simple choice to make in 2019. Get this over with and give those who enjoy using and/or growing it the right to do so without fear of repercussions, and those who have no interest in it... guess what, you can continue having no interest in it!

Johanna Kemp Johanna Kemp 9:07 pm 17 Oct 19

Hopefully Zed has ensured that they never will

Kelli Trinidad Kelli Trinidad 8:32 pm 17 Oct 19

And I hope liberals rip up that pesky electric light rail and install coal powered steam tram 🤪

Ron Cawthron Ron Cawthron 7:55 pm 17 Oct 19

Go for it. Dig deeper and lose the next election. Understand that you work for the public, not the other way round.

Jon McLeod Jon McLeod 7:34 pm 17 Oct 19

Liberals will be in opposition for many years.

Alex Elliott Alex Elliott 6:06 pm 17 Oct 19

Some politicians just don't know when to say nothing.

planet42 planet42 5:33 pm 17 Oct 19

Yet another reason not to vote for the libs. If you’re so concerned about drugs in society when will you be putting up a bill to make alcohol illegal? Hypocrites.

    theberra theberra 6:58 pm 17 Oct 19

    Agree, I’m sure there are significantly more ‘harrowing stories’ involving alcohol than all alternative drugs combined.

Robert Hawes Robert Hawes 5:23 pm 17 Oct 19

The Liberals should, at least in the ACT, say "we are Liberals, not conservative, we support progressive policies. The only problem with the Labor Party's position on this issue is that it does not go far enough".

As others have said, they have committed political suicide for another four years.

Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 5:22 pm 17 Oct 19

I wouldn’t vote liberal this ACT election then.

Jon Loiterton Jon Loiterton 5:15 pm 17 Oct 19

They must really love opposition so much they want another 3 years there

Jane Stubbs Jane Stubbs 4:38 pm 17 Oct 19

Wake up Liberals, it’s 2019 not 1719... Read & educate yourselves! Let’s not make an embarrassment of our selves to the rest of the forward thinking world... Boo

Rusty Baird Rusty Baird 3:53 pm 17 Oct 19

Like we needed another reason never to vote Liberal

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 3:42 pm 17 Oct 19

Way to lose an election!

Wade Bermingham Wade Bermingham 3:42 pm 17 Oct 19

That's a bit of a coin flip I reckon on one hand a lot of people don't care about it or are pro pot and on the other you've got the people panicking about it or simply don't like the idea my guess older while the latter is younger. Big question which is the bigger voter

    Louise Flood Louise Flood 5:37 pm 17 Oct 19

    Have you forgotten us older people are from the generation where pot smoking was normal? I am so over te them and us, old and young divide. Mostly fed by the media for click bait

    Wade Bermingham Wade Bermingham 6:34 pm 17 Oct 19

    That is true too

Nunkeri Bungledool Nunkeri Bungledool 3:38 pm 17 Oct 19

Then I reckon they won't be elected...

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