A brand new bill is to be introduced in Canberra that could very well make the ACT Australia’s first state or territory to legalise illicit substances such as cocaine, heroin, ice and MDMA.
The bill aims to move people who possess or use the substances to no longer face prison, and instead be directed towards health programs that will encourage betterment and recovery.
Introducing the bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly is Labor Member of the Legislative Council Michael Pettersson, who is the same guy that’s responsible for introducing the bill that legalised cannabis in the ACT back in 2018. While that bill aimed to legalise usage, this new one looks to change the ways that the government punish the possession of drugs that can be potentially dangerous.
“We’ve had laws of prohibition in place for about 100 years. In those 100 years, somehow, 43 per cent of Australians have used an illicit substance [including cannabis],” Pettersson told the ABC.
“That tells me that the criminal justice system isn’t the deterrent we think it is.
“If someone is using drugs, the best way to get them to stop is to sit them down with a doctor.”
According to the ABC, a draft version of the bill stipulates that 2g of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines, and 0.5g of MDMA will be specifically listed in the bid to decriminalise the drugs.
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee has made it clear that her party will take Pettersson’s proposed bill into serious consideration, but is wary about the way that the bill has been prepared, and how sudden its arrival has come about.
“We know from experience when Michael actually brought the bill in relation to cannabis last time that it was riddled with concerns, especially raised by the legal fraternity, about the way it was drafted,” Lee told the ABC.
“When it comes to drug reform there are so, so many stakeholders that we need to consult, and this is just another example of Labor shooting from the hip, without proper consultation.”
We’ll have to wait and see what the ACT Legislative Assembly does with the proposed bill, but if passed, this could signify the possibility of changes across all of Australia.Image: Getty Images / Yulia Reznikov