For someone living under the conservative government in Australia, a light has been cast upon you.
Marijuana has been supposedly legal for medicinal purposes for the past three years, but to someone trying to get their weed through the Special Access Scheme (SAS), there has been more red tape than dealing with the actual SAS. However, now, the Australian Capital Territory, a state in Australia has become the first to legalize cannabis for personal use.
According to the ABC:
The ACT has become the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.
- Under laws passed today, adults in the ACT will be able to grow two cannabis plants each
- The laws say the plants cannot be grown in public or be accessible to children
- They conflict with Commonwealth law, which does not allow personal cannabis use
The laws passed the ACT Legislative Assembly this afternoon, allowing possession of up to 50 grams per person and a maximum of four plants per household.
They will come into effect from January 31, 2020.
The legislation conflicts with Commonwealth laws prohibiting the possession of cannabis.
And cannabis users have been warned there are still serious legal risks, including potential jail time, when growing or smoking cannabis in the ACT.
Cannabis remains a prohibited substance under Commonwealth law, and police officers in the ACT will retain the power to arrest and charge anyone with cannabis under those laws.
It will also be possible for the Commonwealth to overrule the ACT, and seek to have the laws struck out as inconsistent with its own legislation.
This is incredible news for people in Canberra and the ACT but is it actually going to happen?
With the conservative government in rule at the federal level, how sure are they that the government won’t override state laws?
While speaking on the bill in the Legislative Assembly this morning, ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay made clear anyone growing or consuming cannabis was still carrying a degree of risk.
“This does not entirely remove the risk of people being arrested under Commonwealth law, and we are being up front with the community about that,” he said.
“The ACT’s legislation attempts to provide a clear and specific legal defence to an adult who possesses small amounts of cannabis in the ACT, but is prosecuted under Commonwealth law.
Then again, Canberra is Australia’s version of Washington DC. Essentially it is home to parliament house and thousands of politicians and government workers. So you would think that if they were going to override it, they would have done so already.
From the Guardian:
The Greens have long been champions of legalising cannabis, and committee member and MLA Caroline Le Couteur is a noble warrior — having spent a significant chunk of time living in the pot haven of Nimbin.
But, despite endorsing all the recommendations, even she was not convinced about the legislation.
She admitted she didn’t know how ACT Government intervention in Commonwealth laws would work and said the bill would be difficult to vote for if the Government didn’t provide more clarity.
As a conservative, dissenting committee member and Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne was much more damning, describing the inquiry as irresponsible.
But isn’t that what happened in the US? They are firing up and wondering what the solution should be. I have a great solution:
The federal government should just forget about it. Leave people alone.
The ACT attorney-general, Gordon Ramsay, told the assembly it was time to treat drug addition like a health issue rather than an issue of “right and wrong”, which is why the laws would be accompanied by more drug and alcohol services and the introduction of specific drug courts.
He acknowledged possessing and growing cannabis would remain a federal offence, and the risk of prosecution was “not entirely removed”, but “in practice” the laws would not apply.
Fifty grams of cannabis is a couple of ounces. That’s a decent amount of weed for one person. Still, I had to check the date on this make sure it wasn’t April 1st for two reasons. First, because it seems too good to be true and second because the ACT Attorney-General’s name is Gordon Ramsay.
How long before the other states follow?
OK, so you may think I am jumping the gun little bit here but everyone is thinking it. The whole world is legalizing weed and whilst we don’t expect the Australian government to take the lead on this, it seems to be down to the states to take control. So Australia appears to be taking the same route as the US. One state will surely follow by another and hopefully, if there is not too much complexity, it might mean the availability of CBD oil at last.
So why don’t we go open a shop in Canberra?
Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone that far yet. We have to remember that the first state has passed laws a few hours ago, to get to the same point that the US is at now could take years. But, for now, at least that is an incredible step in the right direction.
The Labor MLA behind the bill, Michael Pettersson, indicated he saw some merit in the ACT eventually going down a path of commercialisation.
The crux of his argument was that if a person has a legal means of acquiring the drug, that would deliver a significant blow to organised crime — which currently has a near monopoly on its supply.
But this bill does not provide any kind of legal pathway to commercialisation.
Mr Pettersson told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday morning that the major hurdle remains the Commonwealth.
“Some members of the community may wish this bill went further, such as establishing a market for the sale of small amounts of cannabis,” he said.
“This would not be possible under current federal law, and has never been the purpose of this bill.
“This bill is simply about legalising cannabis for personal use.” (ABC)
It seems like the wind of weed-scented change is coming to you next Australia
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