Is this the start of a cannabis movement in Australia? Will other states begin to follow?
Canberra has become the first city in Australia to legalise cannabis for personal use. Residents over 18 will be allowed to possess 50 grams of marijuana and grow two plants per person. A household can only have 4 plants, and hydroponic growing will remain illegal.
The bill was passed in September 2019 and only impacts the Australian Capital Territory. However, there are fears it may conflict with federal legislation which still criminalises any possession of marijuana. This means that any possession outside of ACT is still criminal.
The politician who introduced the bill, Mr Pettersson, implored the notion that marijuana should be a health issue and not a criminal issue. He stated that “because of our drug laws, getting caught with a small amount of cannabis can ruin your life.”
I support this message and Canberra’s decision to decriminalise marijuana. It destroys the black market, will reduce crime and gang activity, and provide relief to many. You can find further reasons why I encourage the decriminalisation of marijuana in this article: https://thelevinelowdown.com/2019/11/12/should-we-decriminalise-drug-use/
An essential aspect of this law is that selling plants, leaves or seeds will remain an offence. This is a vital adjustment as it allows law enforcement to directly target distributing or trafficking offences, rather than small possession cases which are a waste of resources, time and money.
The law does not provide any legal pathway to commercialisation, but it doesn’t rule out the idea. The bill allows for future amendments to make it more successful.
I love this law. Why? It demonstrates a government actively seeking to test out a new strategy. We continue to use the same methods and expect different solutions to our problems. Then, when someone suggests a radical solution, it is immediately shut down.
Let’s do a test and see what happens. Canberra isn’t commercialising and legalising all possession, distribution, manufacturing and trafficking of marijuana. However, it is willing to take a small risk and see if the outcome will be different by slightly changing the method.
This new law in Canberra should lead to two changes. It should encourage other state governments to consider changing their legislation regarding cannabis possession, to start the conversation and complete research. It should also set a broader precedent of testing a new strategy. Whether it be pill testing, drug injecting centres or drug possession, we will never know unless we try.
The beauty of living in a democracy is that laws can change, and they can change relatively quickly if there are serious issues.
Let’s start to recognise that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal issue.
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