A bill that would make Canberra the first place in Australia to decriminalize illicit drugs like heroin, MDMA and methamphetamines is slated to be introduced to the ACT legislative assembly next year by the government’s own bank.
Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, who introduced a private member legalization bill in 2018 that was ultimately reformulated and passed, said criminal action does not address the problem of drug use in the Canberra community.
He said people caught with small amounts of hard drugs should not face criminal convictions.
« We have had prohibitive laws for about 100 years. In those 100 years, 43 percent of Australians have used an illegal substance [including cannabis], « he said.
« If someone is using drugs, the best way to get them to stop is to put them together with a doctor. «
Mr Pettersson said community support for decriminalization was « way ahead » of politicians, citing the National Drugs Strategy Household Survey published in July.
That survey found that only 20 percent of people were in favor of jail time or community service for someone who owns MDMA, and about a quarter of people were in favor of prison or community service for someone in possession of heroin.
And unlike Pettersson’s bill to legalize cannabis, which clashed with federal law and could be found unconstitutional, there is already an established pathway to decriminalizing drugs.
In 1992, Canberra became the second jurisdiction to decriminalize cannabis, imposing a simple fine for possession of the drug rather than requiring the person to be brought to justice.
A draft by Mr Pettersson suggests that his bill will go the same route and decriminalize possession of up to 2g of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines and 0. 5 g of MDMA.
« For individual consumers caught with small amounts of drugs, those individuals should be redirected onto a health path, fined and confiscated the substance, » he said.
He also noted that there has been no significant increase in related illegal behavior, such as drug driving, since cannabis possession was legalized in January.
Decriminalizing drugs is not an advocated ACT labor policy, but Prime Minister Andrew Barr said on Facebook that he welcomed Mr Pettersson’s bill.
« This is an important public policy debate. I am delighted that Michael has put this on the legislative agenda for 2021, « he said.
« In this process, a committee of the Legislative Assembly will conduct a review of the policy issues and proposed legislation.
« There can then be a vote before the legislative assembly towards the end of 2021. «
The government’s junior coalition partner, ACT-Greens, said in a statement the party was « pleased » that drug reform was on the agenda for next year and said they were « more than ready to get in. » make some big changes this term « . .
Green MLA Johnathan Davis said his own experience as a caregiver for someone with drug addiction problems helped him remember the human faces behind the political debate.
« When people demonize drug use, they often forget that we are talking about people – someone’s son or daughter, their husband, their mother, their boyfriend, » Davis said.
« Decriminalizing drug possession was one of the measures the Greens took in the ACT elections. We look forward to discussing the details of the proposed legislation. «
Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee said her party would consider the proposal, but the announcement came without warning and she had not seen any details from Labor on how decriminalization could work.
« We know from experience the last time Michael actually tabled the law on cannabis that there was concern, particularly from the legal fraternity, about the way it was drafted, » said Mrs. Lee.
« When it comes to drug reforms there are so many stakeholders we need to consult and this is just another example of Labor shooting from the hip without proper consultation.
« We didn’t see any of this in the run-up to the campaign, and now they kind of left it to us. «
Ms. Lee said any legislation presented to the congregation would need mechanisms to « solidly help » people who use drugs in order to be considered.
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MDMA, Heroin, Methamphetamine, Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, Recreational Drug Use, Drug Possession, Michael Pettersson
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