27 September 2019

Probing the polls: Alan Jones, ACTION buses and the new cannabis laws

| Genevieve Jacobs
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The ACT has legalised possessing small amounts of cannabis. But was the move necessary or politically inspired? Photo: File.

This week’s poll has had a huge response. We reported that the Greens are supporting a community petition to remove advertising images of Alan Jones and his 2CC breakfast program from the back of ACTION buses.

The campaign originated with Canberra businesswoman Peta Swarbrick, who argues that Jones “does not uphold acceptable community values and does not respect women publicly, that these comments could encourage violence against women, and therefore the promotion of this broadcaster is inconsistent with the values we should uphold in our community”.

While there was vigorous discussion in the comments about rights to free speech, with many arguing that 2CC is a business and has a right to advertise freely, readers were squarely in favour of getting rid of Jones with a 22 per cent margin on 1382 votes.

We asked whether it was a good idea to remove the 2CC advertising from the back of the ACT’s buses. Your options were No, love him or hate him, it’s a free country. This option received 540 votes (39% of the total). Alternatively, you could vote Yes, I’m completely over Alan, get him out of my eyeline. This option was the decisive winner with 61 per cent of the total (842 votes).

This week we’re asking you about the ACT’s new cannabis laws.

Possessing small amounts of cannabis is now legal in the ACT although there are some strict parameters around how much any one person can possess, and providing or supplying cannabis both remain illegal, as does smoking cannabis in public or within the vicinity of a child.

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.

“Right now in the ACT, most people caught with small amounts cannabis will receive a fine but some people receive a criminal charge,” said Michael Pettersson MLA, who introduced the legislation. “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, adding that 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.

However, police say the new laws will be complex to enforce for a variety of reasons and potentially put ACT Policing in a difficult position.

“Commonwealth laws trump ACT laws so now police officers have been put in a position where they can use Commonwealth legislation,” Australian Federal Police Association president Angela Smith told Region Media.

“There was nothing wrong with the legislation to start with because it gave a good approach for police to use. I just think this new bill has created more questions than it is ever going to possibly resolve.

“There is a lot of power in words and I think this bill will confuse people. People may start to think this is a free for all.”

ACT Policing’s Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said it is up to the discretion of each police officer whether a person will be charged under ACT law or Commonwealth law, admitting it would be a challenge for officers.

What do you think? We’re asking whether the ACT’s new cannabis laws are necessary and useful.

*Yes this is a sensible step to normalise what was already happening” or
*No, police already use careful judgement, this is political not practical

Are the ACT's new cannabis laws necessary and useful?

View Results

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Here’s a convenient way to prevent a conflict between enforcing commonwealth or state laws: repeal the conflicting commonwealth law.

Another option is to kick out the AFP and institute our own state police. The Commonwealth law will still be on the books so you can bring those to bear in any situation where someone is being arrested on commonwealth related charges such as subverting the electoral system, conspiring with foreign powers to alter the outcome of an election, or treason.

In the meantime, leave the ACT to do their thing.

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