Well…. this should send the Liberal party members up the road and the shock jocks into apoplectic fits of fake rage and fury.
The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) reports today
A bill that would make Canberra the first place in Australia to decriminalise illicit drugs such as heroin, MDMA and methamphetamines is set to be introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly next year from the Government’s own back bench.
- A Labor backbencher will introduce a bill to decriminalise illicit drugs in the ACT
- The bill would seek to divert people from prison into health programs
- The Opposition has not rejected the idea, but says it has been rushed and needs more consultation
Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, who introduced a private member’s bill in 2018 to legalise cannabis that was ultimately redrafted and passed, said criminal justice measures were not addressing the problem of drug use in the Canberra community.
He said people caught with small amounts of hard drugs should not face the prospect of a criminal conviction.
“We’ve had laws of prohibition in place for about 100 years. In that 100 years, somehow, 43 per cent of Australians have used an illicit substance [including cannabis],” he said.
“That tells me that the criminal justice system isn’t the deterrent we think it is.
Mr Pettersson said community support for decriminalisation was “way out ahead” of politicians, citing the National Drug Strategy Household Survey released in July.
That survey found just 20 per cent of people supported a prison sentence or community service for someone found to possess MDMA, and about a quarter of people supported prison or community service for someone caught in possession of heroin.
And unlike Mr Pettersson’s cannabis legalisation bill, which clashed with federal law and risked being struck down as unconstitutional, there is already an established path to follow for decriminalising drugs.
In 1992, Canberra became the second jurisdiction to decriminalise cannabis, allowing for a simple fine for possessing the drug, rather than a requirement that the person be sent through the courts.
An exposure draft by Mr Pettersson suggests his bill will follow the same path, decriminalising possession of up to 2g of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines, and 0.5g of MDMA.
He also noted that since the possession of cannabis was legalised in January, there had been no marked increase in related illegal behaviour, such as drug driving.
Barr welcomes ‘policy debate’ on decriminalisation
Decriminalising drugs is not an endorsed ACT Labor policy, but Chief Minister Andrew Barr said on Facebook that he welcomed Mr Pettersson’s bill.
“This is an important public policy debate. I’m pleased Michael has put this on the legislative agenda for 2021,” he said.
“The process from here will see a Legislative Assembly committee conduct an examination of the policy issues and the proposed legislation.
“It may then come before the Legislative Assembly for a vote towards the end of 2021.”
Read the rest of the article where the ACT opposition leader is measured but fair in her tone although a call from the PM will probably put an end to that !