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Possession of small amounts of cannabis now legalised in the ACT

Lachlan Roberts 25 September 2019 83
Cannabis.

Small amounts of cannabis are now legal in the ACT. File Photo.

In a development described as “an evolution, not a revolution”, possessing and growing small amounts of cannabis for personal use has now been legalised in the ACT, allowing Canberrans over 18 years of age to possess 50 grams of cannabis.

The ACT Legislative Assembly passed Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson’s bill on Wednesday afternoon (25 September) after a long day of debating amendments.

Individual possession of up to 50 grams of dry cannabis, 150 grams of fresh cannabis and two plants has now been legalised. Each household can grow a maximum of four plants.

However, possession of more than 50 grams of cannabis; the cultivation of more than four plants; artificial cultivation and selling or providing cannabis will all remain illegal. It remains illegal to smoke cannabis in a public place, or within 20 metres of a child.

“Right now in the ACT, most people caught with small amounts cannabis will receive a fine but some people receive a criminal charge,” Mr Petterson said. “This bill is just taking the next sensible step and removing the criminal charge”.

Mr Pettersson said the legislation’s passage was a victory for the community and reformers.

“This legislation will work to reduce the harm of drugs in our community by reducing the stigma of drug use and encouraging people to seek help without fear of arrest,” Mr Petterson said. “I don’t think anyone should have their life ruined by a criminal conviction for possessing small amounts of cannabis.

“Canada, South Africa, Uruguay and 11 US states have legalised cannabis, while New Zealand is expected to hold a referendum next year on the issue.

“Today, the ACT joins these progressive parts of the world in recognising the benefits brought by a harm minimisation approach and begins a new chapter in drug law reform in Australia.”

Despite cannabis possession now being legalised in the ACT, it still remains a criminal offence to cultivate or possess cannabis under Commonwealth legislation but Mr Pettersson said he does not expect people to face court on drug charges under Commonwealth law.

“Right now, police can choose to prosecute people underneath the Territory law or Commonwealth law,” he said. “That is a problem that exists right now.

“By removing possession offences under ACT law, we are evoking defences under Commonwealth law, which means possession excused or justified under territory law is provided with a complete defence.”

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said his party supported the bill because it was a significant step in a long journey of drug law reforms.

“The Greens believe that allowing adults in the ACT to possess and use cannabis would acknowledge the modern reality that many adults choose to use cannabis, and criminalising it causes more harm than good”, Mr Rattenbury said.

“Keeping cannabis use as an offence drives people away from getting help when they need it and can expose them to social and financial harms through the criminal justice system.

“While today’s Bill is an important step forward, there’s still work to be done to ensure that cannabis use is treated as a health issue, not a criminal issue.”

The Canberra Liberals did not support the bill, saying it would lead to “perverse outcomes” and will encourage more people to use cannabis.

Mr Petterson disagreed. “I don’t think more people will start using cannabis as a result of this bill,” he said. “Individuals right now can grow small amounts of cannabis under the decriminalisation model. This will change to legalisation. Most people are not going to see a real change.

“I want to be very clear: this bill does not legalise driving under the influence of drugs. It does not legalise supply. It legalises the possession of small amounts of cannabis.”

The new laws will come into effect on 31 January 2020 and will be reviewed within three years.


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83 Responses to Possession of small amounts of cannabis now legalised in the ACT
k452 k452 10:40 am 27 Sep 19

In reply to Michael Attwell, it would be because four of the Liberal party members took a sickie and the Assembly has “pairs” for voting

Steve Luby Steve Luby 8:06 pm 26 Sep 19

It won't happen,Dutton is going to repeal the ACT legislation so our laws passed means nothing.

    Drew Andersen Drew Andersen 9:01 pm 26 Sep 19

    Steve Luby Canberra is now going to be called the weed capital of Australia (new nimbin) 🙄

    Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 9:04 am 27 Sep 19

    Pretty sure Dutton (or whoever might decide to challenge it) would need the support of the House of Reps and the Senate in order to repeal it. Its not as simple as the revoking of our Euthanasia or Marriage equality laws was.

Bob Allan Jones Bob Allan Jones 7:46 pm 26 Sep 19

Well it is typical of the socialist territory of the ACT.

Denis Faganello Denis Faganello 7:15 pm 26 Sep 19

Could be a complete mess from everyone's comments 🤔🤔

Michael Attwell Michael Attwell 5:59 pm 26 Sep 19

News said 10 for, 7 against, that leaves 8 that didnt vote, WHY.

Lachie McOmish Lachie McOmish 5:25 pm 26 Sep 19

Well it will be interesting to see what happens at the ANU?

You know the really funny thing is that if or when Chinese parents realise how drug soaked the ACT is, we will never get another Chinese student to study here. Look at what happened in the UK

The risks to the ACT economy are huge

Russell Robertson Russell Robertson 4:38 pm 26 Sep 19

This is utter nonsense,to legalize drugs and then you know where they'll end up ,on the streets getting sold by drug traffickers.....

Yes I agree for the oil to be Legal,for medical usage and by prescription only,but to be legally allowed to grow.....no it's wrong, then the next thing will be that someone's child is addicted to it, and then possibly then going to harder stuff because the high isn't enough,then the parents point the finger at the parliment for passing this nonsense because there child is addicted.....it goes on and on in a vicious circle.....

My view is no to legalizing it,only for medical reasons YES.....

    Karl Varnsen Karl Varnsen 12:24 am 27 Sep 19

    Marijuana is a wondrous plant, a real gift from the gods.

    Russell Robertson Russell Robertson 8:02 am 27 Sep 19

    Karl Varnsen if you really think so,🤔🤔

Troy Henderson Troy Henderson 3:37 pm 26 Sep 19

Small amounts? Pretty sure 104.7 said 50g

    Nicholas Gray Nicholas Gray 8:22 pm 26 Sep 19

    Troy Henderson 50 grams isn’t even 2 bags though hahah it’s small

    Troy Henderson Troy Henderson 8:43 pm 26 Sep 19

    Depends what you bag up in. That like 1.5 ounce

    Troy Henderson Troy Henderson 8:43 pm 26 Sep 19

    Almost 2 lol

    Nicholas Gray Nicholas Gray 8:51 pm 26 Sep 19

    yeah a ‘bag’ is an ounce my dude, that’s literally what I just said. 2 bags is 56 grams , which isn’t much

    Troy Henderson Troy Henderson 8:52 pm 26 Sep 19

    Nicholas Gray 3 grams is plenty.....

Greg Hannah Greg Hannah 11:17 am 26 Sep 19

The population has to have a beginning so as to create some hope of a lesser government regulated life.

Tim Mak Tim Mak 10:20 am 26 Sep 19

Just in time for the start of school term 2020! 👍

Peggy Rose Peggy Rose 10:16 am 26 Sep 19

You can still lose your driving licence ,if you drive with it in your system ,like alcohol .Good thing about this law is it cuts out the dealers ,and people with severe illnesses can get CBD oil

    Allison Jay Allison Jay 2:06 pm 26 Sep 19

    Does CBD oil show in a roadside drug test? 🤔

    Peggy Rose Peggy Rose 2:15 pm 26 Sep 19

    Allison Jay I don’t know ,I know nothing about the oil only what I’ve seen and read that it is good for severe pain

    Jesus Byrne Jesus Byrne 3:45 pm 26 Sep 19

    Allison no.

    CBS oil will not show as it doesn't get you high.

    The shows in a road side drug test which Is what does get you high

    Matthew Jefferys Matthew Jefferys 7:31 pm 26 Sep 19

    Roadside drug tests are extremely inaccurate, so who knows what will show

    Nicholas Gray Nicholas Gray 8:22 pm 26 Sep 19

    Peggy Rose you can get done via road side testing even after 48 hours of having some weed. They aren’t accurate nor do they actually test for intoxication levels.

    They shouldn’t look for weed in roadside testing as they don’t have the tech to determine who is “high” and who had some a few days ago

    Sam Sulvig Sam Sulvig 8:46 pm 26 Sep 19

    You cant actually buy any, thats still illegal. But I am unsure about the oil, I have heard its legal before because it doesnt have the chemical that gets you high.

    Jesus Byrne Jesus Byrne 9:25 pm 26 Sep 19

    Nicholas in SA they only test for the for 5 hours vs the test used here in Australia.

    Sam you can buy the oil in Australia and even here in canberra it's still a grey area of the law but their are definitely some shops here in canberra you can buy Cbd oil

    Sam Sulvig Sam Sulvig 9:26 pm 26 Sep 19

    Jesus Byrne Thats what I thought, I know though if the AFP arrest you for it, its a federal crime. but its an ACT police officer its up to their discretion.

    Barry Finch Barry Finch 8:15 am 28 Sep 19

    Peggy Rose . Do you know if CBD oil will be freely available or will it require some form of approval / script ?

    Peggy Rose Peggy Rose 9:47 am 28 Sep 19

    I’m sorry I have no idea ,I hope it will be freely available maybe some health food stores will have it

    Paul Ceccato Paul Ceccato 9:06 am 30 Sep 19

    Peggy Rose most CBD oil will have very low levels of THC. Roadside drug tests will pick up very low levels of thc, way below the threshold for intoxication. So you can’t drive. I don’t believe this new law mentions hashish, oils, tinctures and othe extracts, so you are out of luck.

phoon phoon 10:09 am 26 Sep 19

So we can get fined for walking across Northbourne Avenue but the government is helping people get stoned. Good to see they have their priorities straight.

    JorgeMoita JorgeMoita 6:24 pm 26 Sep 19

    Government is more concerning harassing old people who needs painkillers

Nathan Dunn Nathan Dunn 10:06 am 26 Sep 19

Dale Ferguson cocaine next? 🤷🤷

Christopher Mawbey Christopher Mawbey 4:56 am 26 Sep 19

Don't come on my job stoned

    Cappy June Cappy June 11:28 am 26 Sep 19

    Christopher Mawbey I’m not coming on anything

Andre Sphenis Andre Sphenis 10:25 pm 25 Sep 19

Its not so much legalised, as the discretion not to prosecute for possession has been expanded.

    Cristy Barnes Cristy Barnes 11:07 am 26 Sep 19

    Andre Sphenis finally someone that has any idea. Thank u

    Renea Hazel Renea Hazel 12:55 pm 26 Sep 19

    If you want to get technical about it, it HAS been legalised in terms of State law. The fact that Commonwealth law can override it is incidental. The discretion is around whether the latter occurs.

    Andre Sphenis Andre Sphenis 2:06 pm 26 Sep 19

    Renea As I read it it has just expanded the definition of a ‘simple cannabis offence’ to include more cannabis and slightly more plants. However a police officer can still issue a fine. The conflict with Commonwealth law is an issue, not only because it can overrule state law but because the ACT is policed by the AFP not state police. The AFP can enforce commonwealth criminal statutes. If it were truely legal one would be able to purchase and sell it, not just possess and use the product.

    Karl Varnsen Karl Varnsen 12:18 am 27 Sep 19

    No, it actually has been legalised.

    Andre Sphenis Andre Sphenis 6:20 am 27 Sep 19

    Karl Varnsen well the ACT drugs of dependence act still refers to 50g or less of cannabis as an offence, albeit a simple cannabis offence, so I don’t see how.

Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 10:05 pm 25 Sep 19

How many people drive cars? If your drug reading shows up from when ever you last smoked some pot, then how do you drive your car without giving up pot?

Simon Wilson Simon Wilson 10:05 pm 25 Sep 19

Two plants they say 🌱❤🤙👌

Nanco Uli Nanco Uli 8:40 pm 25 Sep 19

Pity it's not implemented in time for the Green Machine on Fri night!

Dan Rolfe Dan Rolfe 8:33 pm 25 Sep 19

Does this count as 1 plant?

    Neil Yates Neil Yates 8:40 pm 25 Sep 19

    Dan Rolfe that will do

    Dan Rolfe Dan Rolfe 8:44 pm 25 Sep 19

    Neil you should move over pal. Legal weed in Feb and a ton of carp in the main lake running through the city

    Kamea Lee Skowronski Kamea Lee Skowronski 7:16 pm 26 Sep 19

    Dan Rolfe hefty boi

Mat Kenna Mat Kenna 8:33 pm 25 Sep 19

The AFP may still decide to prosecute under the federal law and sharing a joint between mates will be classed as supply.

    Stuart Herring Stuart Herring 9:59 pm 25 Sep 19

    Yes, that's true. But ACT policing (the branch of the AFP contracted to handle policing in the ACT) have stated that they won't go after personal users specifically.

    Lindsay Heffernan Lindsay Heffernan 1:08 pm 26 Sep 19

    I dont think they have gone after personal users for the last 40 years but it was a nice standby for them.

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