Legalisation Of Cannabis In The ACT
The ACT has become the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise personal use and cultivation of cannabis. The laws, recently passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly, will allow people in the ACT over the age of 18 years to possess 50 grams of cannabis and grow up to two plants.
What the Proponents of the New Laws Say:
Proponents of the new laws say that drug addiction should be treated like a health issue rather than an issue of right and wrong. Politicians in favour of the new legislation say that the laws will be accompanied by more drug and alcohol services and the introduction of specific drug courts. They acknowledge that possessing and growing cannabis will remain a federal offence, and the risk of prosecution is not entirely removed, but in practice the laws wont apply.
Further they say that previously a person’s choice to use cannabis was a choice that could land them with a criminal conviction which could ultimately impact upon their job opportunities. The new laws will eliminate these issues.
Proponents of the new laws say that the choice to use cannabis is a choice that exposes people to more harmful substances because they are acquiring cannabis from drug dealers who may also be dealing other “harder” illicit substances. It’s said that many of the people that are currently benefiting from the illegality of cannabis are criminals making large profits. It’s for these reasons they say we need to illuminate the back market and place cannabis use within a tightly regulated health framework.
What the Critics of the New Laws Say:
The ACT shadow Attorney-General, Jeremy Hanson has said the new laws are badly drafted and would ultimately lead to a number of perverse outcomes. Mr Hanson has said it will encourage more people to use cannabis – which medical professionals say would lead to increased rates of psychosis – and more people would be charged with drug-driving.
Critics point to AMA findings that cannabis use can cause a 5- fold risk in the incidence of psychosis. Consequently the legalisation of cannabis will lead to more hospital presentations from mental illness and other health concerns that arise with cannabis use.
The fact that the new laws conflict with Commonwealth law, critics say, will be confusing for the police. The new laws, they say, put not only individuals at a greater level of risk but our police will be out there on the beat working in an unclear legal framework. The point is made that it is open to ACT police officers to charge people found in possession of cannabis under Commonwealth law. And this will create ambiguity and confusion for police officers and how they are going to deal with the situation.
My Thoughts on the Issue:
I agree that possession and cultivation of relatively small mounts of cannabis would be best dealt with as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. Clearly for some people cannabis use has some quite significant mental health implications. Those people should be encouraged to seek medical assistance without fear of prosecution.
As far as possession and cultivation of cannabis and its contravention of the Commonwealth law, the questions really come down to this: Should the Commonwealth DPP’s time be spent prosecuting individuals in the ACT for possession of small amounts of cannabis? Or should the DPP’s time be spent on focusing its energy on matters of national significance?
I think that if you ask the average person in the street most people would say that the Commonwealth DPP and the Commonwealth government’s energy should be focused more on matters of national and international significance rather than the levels of sanction relating to possession and cultivation of less than 50 grams of cannabis.
In my view people should take a more calm and measured reaction to what is occurring in the ACT because really it is just a further step along an evidence based track.
We Can Help
Cannabis remains a prohibited drug under Western Australian law. If you or someone that you know is facing charges involving prohibited drugs contact the Law office of Andrew Williams for advice and representation on 08 9278 2575 or enquire online today.