Australian Capital Territory Legalises Cannabis

Cannabis in Canberra
Map Image: Martyman, CC BY-SA 3.0

The cat has been set among the pigeons with the announcement the ACT has legalised small amounts of cannabis for personal use – a development that will no doubt be welcomed by both recreational and medicinal cannabis users.

Passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, the new laws allow for possession of up to 50 grams dry weight (or 150 grams “wet”) per person and a maximum of four plants per household or two plants per person. But before Canberrans get started on their mini-crops, it should be noted the legislation apparently doesn’t come into effect until January 31 next year.

Another issue is the ACT’s legislation conflicts with Commonwealth laws, meaning those possessing/growing cannabis could still be collared – however ACT Policing has indicated police wouldn’t be embarking on a campaign of charging those engaged in personal use with Commonwealth offences.

The Federal Government is reserving judgement until it closely examines the laws – and there has been precedent where the Commonwealth has overridden laws made in the ACT.

While the news of legalisation is likely going down very well with recreational users, medicinal cannabis patients also have some cause to celebrate. However, this legislation only relates to cannabis plant material and not cannabis-based medications/supplements that are still heavily regulated and difficult to access. It’s also important to note the new laws do not allow for the sale or supply of cannabis, meaning medicinal users will need to grow their own – and not everyone is capable of doing so.

More on the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018 can be accessed here.

More Needs To Be Done – Greens

While saying the ACT cannabis scheme is a step in the right direction, the ACT Greens want to see further amendments made; including increasing the allowable amount for possession by those who use cannabis medicinally to 150 grams.

“.. to recognise that it remains difficult to access medicinal cannabis through the current scheme and people with a medical need may need to stockpile larger quantities than recreational users,” said ACT Greens spokesperson for drug law reform Shane Rattenbury.

The party has also committed to continue pursuing cannabis legalisation across Australia.

“Together with our Federal Greens colleagues, we’ll continue to campaign for legalisation at a national level to allow for the supply and sale of cannabis in a nationally regulated market, something the ACT is unable to do on our own,” stated Mr. Rattenbury.