17 September 2023

Probing the polls: mobile phones in schools and decriminalising drugs for personal use

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Drugs, NSW Police file photo

Dealing drugs will still be against the law in the ACT, but police are unlikely to attend venues where patrons are openly using. Photo: Supplied

As the ACT Government moves to ban mobile phones during school hours, it seems the general public is well and truly behind them.

There are a couple of variations on plans to prevent children from using phones during school hours, including bans at specific times and exemptions, but our recent poll showed a huge majority were in favour of getting rid of the devices from the classroom and the playground.

We asked Should the ACT schools ban all phone use during school hours?

Your choices to vote were: No, it’s unnecessary. Teachers need to exercise more authority. This received just 14 per cent of the total, or 96 votes. Alternatively, you could choose to vote Yes, there’s no reason kids need them during school days. This received a whopping 86 per cent of the total, or 610 votes.

This week we’re wondering whether you think the ACT has done the right thing in decriminalising larger quantities of illicit drugs for personal use.

READ ALSO ‘Massive interference with Territory rights’: Senator Cash moves bill to stop drug decriminalisation laws

From the end of October, police will fine or divert people in possession of less than 1.5 grams of a wide range of illicit drugs. The intention is harm reduction – but will it work? And who is being most harmed?

On the one hand, there’s broad agreement that people who are habitual hard drug users and often very vulnerable probably aren’t a good fit for the criminal justice system.

People who are struggling with complex co-morbidities need help, not handcuffs, and police have better things to do than arrest them.

On the other hand, there are plenty of recreational users who don’t fit this profile and whose drug use fuels dealing and other problematic behaviours. That’s especially so in entertainment venues where owners can no longer be sure police will attend because possessing heroin, methamphetamines, LSD and ecstasy is no longer automatically grounds for an arrest.

READ ALSO Letter from the editor: whose harm are we reducing with drug law changes?

Will recreational users be encouraged by the limits? Will they understand the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation?

Will Newby wrote: “There seems to have been zero consideration for the potential harm, risk to life and property of those who aren’t drug users. Rattenbury seems like a fairly logical guy but he’s complexity lost me on this one, I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see this ending well.”

Elf argued: “What needs to happen is the Government allowing controlled Pharmaceutical production and sale of certain drugs like cannabis, ecstasy, coke and psychedelics. The other drugs remain banned and gaol terms of 25 years minimum for supply or production of any drugs.”

Our poll question this week is:

Have you turned your heater on and broken the 'Anzac Day rule'?

View Results

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Rob McGuigan1:03 pm 17 Sep 23

So, the ACT Government basically hides the intent to decriminalise hard drugs in their election platform and this so admitted in that “hot mic” episode with that ACT Minister. Then they actually do it against the ACT police advice. You “reep what you sow” the old saying goes. I hope ACT residents like getting burgled and having their vehicles stolen because that’s coming to an ACT residence either yours or your neighbours very shortly. Worse, across the border in NSW will get likewise and there sensibly its still very much illegal. Canberra will be like Holland. The drug and now crime Capitol of Europe. Great move ACT…NOT!

Kevin Parker11:48 pm 19 Sep 23

Got to pull you up here Rob, Holland, crime capital of Europe…can I have what you’re smoking? Thats an outrageous lie that you could’ve easily fact checked with google.
Small quantities are decriminalised, who cares, why should the government decide what an adult who has the ability to decide for themselves what they want to consume or not consume. Its the police and entire justice system that let off ratbags (the ones who rob and steal our cars as you say) with a slap on the wrist into our community that should be put under the microscope.

Kevin Parker12:16 am 20 Sep 23

Rob got to pull you up in this one, Holland, crime capital of Europe, you smoking that good stuff or straight up lying? that’s a huge furphy right there, you could’ve used google to fact check that one.
It’s only small amounts that are decriminalised (theres a difference between that and legalised as well), plus who cares, what, do you think the govt. should decide what an adult who has the ability to make an informed decision decide what they can or can’t consume, get outta here, ‘my body my choice’ I heard someone say, regardless if that’s a good or bad decision on my part…do you really think everyone is gonna go out searching for heroin and then get addicted and start doing all those crimes…i sure ain’t touching it. Drug use is a health problem not a criminal problem. If people commit crimes to fund their drug problem well then yeah give them the full hand of the law (which from my observations is p1$$ poor and the justice system is a joke as far as I’m concerned, too many ratbags on the streets that shouldn’t be). Plus if the govt really cared about the community they’d ban booze and tobacco, these cause more problems and cost us more money than all those hard drugs do! but that would be unfavourable and cost the big end of town too much revenue wouldn’t it.

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