Huge news for the bonglords of Australia‘s dinkiest territory: it looks like the ACT legalising weed for personal use could be a very real possibility in the near future.
As reported by the Canberra Times, the ACT Labor party has announced that they will unilaterally support the bill that was introduced by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson. Labor has 12 of the 25 seats in the ACT Assembly, meaning that they only need one more vote to get the majority required for the bill to pass.
In its current form, the bill would make it no longer a criminal offence for an adult in the ACT to possess 50 grams of weed or four cannabis plants. The bill doesn’t include provisions for the sale of weed, so any hopes you had of suddenly seeing brick-and-mortar shops springing up all over the ACT offering a million different kinds of edibles won’t come to fruition if the bill passes.
Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury told the Canberra Times that the Greens supported the bill in principle, but would need to see the bill itself before committing to supporting it:
We’ve long held the policy to keep people out of the criminal justice system for the possession of personal amounts of drugs. As a matter of principle we support this, and what we’ll be looking at is whether we’ll be making any amendments and further propositions in the bill.
According to Rattenbury, the bill won’t be debated until at least February next year.
Even with the requisite number of votes, it’s unclear how the bill would function in concert with the fact that weed is still prohibited at a federal level.
Drug policy consultant and criminal law lecturer Jarryd Bartle told P.TV that it is currently unlikely that a retail model like the US‘ or Canada‘s could happen in the ACT:
The ACT is going to struggle to implement retail style cannabis legalisation like we see in Canada and the US due to the unique Commonwealth power over Territories. But, we could see ‘defacto’ legalisation through the removal of possession and cultivation offences for small quantities of cannabis”
The downside of defacto legalisation is that there isn’t scope for regulatory control and there is the possibility for profits of homegrown cannabis to still fall into the hands of organised crime. Retail legalisation with a design to collapse competing illicit markets is a much better option but would require Federal cooperation.
Currently in the ACT, there are no criminal penalties for possessing up to 50 grams of weed or up to two non-hydroponic cannabis plants if offenders pay a small fine within 60 days.