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The ACT Has Just Legalised Cannabis for Personal Use

The new laws, which will come into effect in January 2020, allow adults to possess up to 50 grams of cannabis and grow two plants.
By Libby Curran and Samantha Teague
September 25, 2019
By Libby Curran and Samantha Teague
September 25, 2019

There are some big, green changes afoot in the ACT, with the nation's capital today — Wednesday, September 25 — legalising the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use.

The ACT Parliament gave a green light to the bill put forward by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson, called Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018, which allows residents over the age of 18 to possess up to 50 grams of dry cannabis (or 150 grams of wet) and to have two cannabis plants growing at their house, with a maximum of four per household.

The new laws, which are set to come into effect from January 31, 2020, aren't clearcut, however. You still won't be able to buy, sell, give or even share marijuana under the new laws — which means your only option is to grow your own. The ACT's Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson told the ABC Radio earlier today (via The Canberra Times), that even sharing a joint would be considered 'drug supply'. "If there's evidence that someone is providing cannabis to someone else, that's supply and that's an offence," Johnson said.

Cannabis will still remain an illegal drug under Commonwealth law, which means that Canberrans risk fines and prison time for possessing the drug. At the moment, it's unsure how ACT police offers will react, as they have the ability to enforce both ACT and Commonwealth laws.

It's also possible the Commonwealth could overrule the ACT decision, as it did with the Territory's same-sex marriage decision back in 2013 (yes, the ACT independently legalised same-sex marriage before any other jurisdiction), saying the ACT's law was inconsistent with the Federal law.

You also can't smoke in public places or around minors, and, just as before, there'll also be penalties for any minor caught with cannabis, for driving under the influence and, importantly, artificial cultivation. Which means, any cultivation with the aid of light or heat is still illegal — so you won't be able to set up a hydroponics system in your cupboard or basement a la Pineapple Express.

So, while things are looking suitably murky for now, if all proceeds as expected, Canberrans will be able to light up from early next year. It'll be interesting to see if this influences laws in any other states or territories.

The ACT's Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018 is set to be signed in on January 31, 2020. We'll let you know if anything changes.

Via The Canberra Times

Published on September 25, 2019 by Libby Curran
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