Green light in the ACT

Personal use of marijuana has been given the go-ahead in the nation’s capital this weedweek. While the Liberal Party voted against the private member’s bill, the Greens and Labor stood for it, and it passed in the ACT just this Wednesday. The new law means anyone in Canberra, aged 18 years or older, will be able to legally possess 50 grams of weed and allows them to grow a maximum of two plants. While the ACT had already decriminalized cannabis – meaning you’d only get a $100 fine for possession and no criminal record – the Libs stood against legalising it all together because they believe it would lead to increased levels of drug-driving and psychosis.


However, it seems the new rules could cause chronic conflicts. The bill is set to come into effect on the 31stof January next year, but only if the Federal Government allow it. Under federal law, possession of marijuana for personal use is still illegal and may be punishable by jail time, so it’s unclear if they’ll allow the ACT to go against these rules. But Labor Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, remains confident that the Commonwealth won’t try to fight the territory on the billy.


History isn’t on Canberra’s side, though. The ACT tried to legalise same-sex marriage back in 2013, only to have the Federal Government challenge it in the High Court before overturning the new law. But there’s reports that ACT Policing and the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions were both consulted before passing the private members bill – perhaps they didn’t interfere because the bill only considers personal marijuana use, possession, and cultivation, while sales and distribution will remain illegal. Policing officials have warned that passing a joint at a party will count as an act of supply, so even this will remain illegal in Canberra. Is this a catch-22? A case of;


“Yeah sure you can use cannabis, but you obtained it illegally, so you’re still in the wrong”? 


Keep those (red) eyes peeled for further updates.

Gemma Ferguson