The Australian Capital Territory government has denied a request to direct ACT police officers to turn a blind eye to the use of medical cannabis in Canberra.
Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury had approached Police Minister Simon Corbell about the issue.
While the ACT government is generally supportive of medical marijuana, it has refused the request and states police already take the approach that law enforcement resources should be directed at suppliers and not users.
“It’s really nothing more than the police do day-to-day, in terms of exercising their judgment around cannabis possession and use,” said Minister Corbell.
Mr. Rattenbury expressed his frustration on Facebook.
“I’m disappointed that the ACT Government has chosen not to move forward with an amnesty for medical cannabis users, a small but important step toward peace of mind for the sick and dying,” he wrote.
Mr. Rattenbury has also sponsored a petition requesting the ACT Legislative Assembly make provision safe and adequate access to cannabis medicines.
Draft legislation has previously been presented by Mr. Rattenbury that would make it legal for people suffering chronic or terminal illnesses to use cannabis for medical purposes.
“It would also permit the person, or their nominated persons, to grow cannabis plants for that purpose,” says a summary.
However, the Standing Committee on Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services recommended that the ACT Government reject the Draft Bill in its current form last year, calling it “naive and ill considered“.
Regardless, pressure in mounting in the ACT for a program to be implemented.
A new advocacy group in Canberra has set up shop, offering legal advice and other resources related to medical marijuana.
“The Canberra Med Shed supports ongoing peaceful civil disobedience regarding medical cannabis in our community; we will advocate for appropriate updating of legislation while we continue to support best practice services,” states the group.
The next election for the ACT Legislative Assembly is due to be held on 15 October 2016 and no doubt the issue of medical marijuana will play a role in how some Canberrans cast their vote.
Currently in the ACT, penalties start at $100 fines for simple cannabis offences.