Australia: ACT’s Well Meaning But Ultimately Kafkaesque Laws Means Black Market Will Continue To Flourish

Not only that, this story from the ABC suggests that the black market will flourish even more by stealing off the hard labour of others.

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reports

The ACT’s laws allow possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis per person, and a maximum of four plants per household.

Mr Nomikos had never grown the plant before, but what he lacked in experience he made up for in enthusiasm.

“I honestly had no idea what I was doing … I just went out there and just spent time with it every day.”

But one afternoon, shortly before he was due to harvest his plant for the first time, he came home from work to find his prized possession missing.

“I went outside and all I saw was a trail of dirt. That was heartbreaking.”

He was disappointed, but not surprised.

“Someone’s always going to find a way, especially if it’s a very nice, healthy looking plant. They can peek over fences and everything.”

Difficulties complying with the law

The requirement that plants be grown outdoors, where they are a target for thieves, is one of a number of complaints cannabis users have with the ACT laws.

“You can grow cannabis, but it’s illegal to buy the seeds,” says long-time cannabis legalisation advocate Jason Foster. “You can grow four cannabis plants [per household] but you can only have 50 grams, which is less than what one plant will produce.”

The complaints are nothing new to ACT Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, who introduced the legislation in 2018. Pettersson says the Commonwealth indulged in “a lot of sabre-rattling” after the ACT changed the law.

“The model we’ve got in place in the ACT isn’t perfect. It addresses possession but it doesn’t address supply,” he says. “The fundamental problem we face is that our ability to legislate in this space is limited… to deal with supply we’re going to need changes at the Commonwealth level.”

As well as being restricted by federal law, the ACT legislation conflicts directly with Commonwealth cultivation and possession laws.

In October last year Attorney-General Christian Porter warned the Commonwealth law “[was] still valid law in the ACT”, but so far no legal challenge has been mounted.

“The time for that has come and gone,” says Mr Pettersson.

“There was a lot of sabre-rattling at the time, but ultimately it came to nothing.”


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