The labour member who sucessfully decriminalized cannabis in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) in 2020 has now moved to amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989  so as to decriminalize poseession of the following

If the reform were successful, users would be able to possess:

  • up to 2 grams of cocaine, ice, heroin, amphetamine, methadone, methylamphetamine, or psilocybin;
  • 0.5 gm of ecstasy; or
  • 0.002 gm of lysergic acid or lysergide (LSD).

Canberra Weekly reports..

The time has come for ACT drug laws to reflect contemporary values, Michael Pettersson MLA (ACT Labor) argued in the Legislative Assembly this morning, introducing his bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs.

“This bill aims to give people the support and help that they need, instead of being unnecessarily put through a criminal justice system not designed to provide health care,” Mr Pettersson said.

The motion to amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 follows Mr Pettersson’s successful bill last year to decriminalize personal possession of cannabis.

“I believe the decriminalisation of small quantities of drugs better allows us to treat drug use as a public health problem. This is a common-sense step forward that will continue the ACT Government’s track record of helping those in our community who need help.”

As the Act stands at present, possession of drugs of dependence or prohibited substances can incur 50 penalty units, a two-year prison sentence, or both.

Instead of penalising people who use drugs with a criminal conviction, Mr Pettersson explained, offenders would have their drugs confiscated, be made to pay a fine, and be referred to a medical professional.

“The community has moved on from the war on drugs, and it’s time to move on from criminalization,” Mr Pettersson said. “We know that the traditional ‘just say no’ approach hasn’t worked.”

If the reform were successful, users would be able to possess:

  • up to 2 grams of cocaine, ice, heroin, amphetamine, methadone, methylamphetamine, or psilocybin;
  • 0.5 gm of ecstasy; or
  • 0.002 gm of lysergic acid or lysergide (LSD).

These possession thresholds fall beneath traffickable thresholds set by the Federal Government (which did not reflect lived experience, Mr Pettersson thought).

More than 43% of Australians over 14 had used an illicit drug, Mr Pettersson said; the threat of jail time and a criminal record did not deter people from taking drugs.

“People should not be arrested and shamed for their drug use. This can lead to a terrible cycle of recidivism – put simply, a terrible outcome for everyone.”

Since announcing his bill in December, Mr Pettersson said he many in the community had supported his proposal: addicts afraid to seek help for fear of criminal justice repercussions, grieving parents who lost children to drugs, experts and researchers who want to see laws changed, and law enforcement representatives.

“United across all of these different groups, they all want to reduce harm,” Mr Pettersson said. “Seemingly, it’s a question of how, not if.”

Pettersson introduces drug reform bill to the Assembly