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  • Olivia Caisley

ACT legalises recreational cannabis use

The ACT has legalised recreational cannabis use. Picture: istock

The nation’s capital made history on Wednesday, becoming the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise cannabis for recreational use.

The bill, bought by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson, was passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly with the backing of the Greens.

Expected to be rolled out next year, the bill will allow Canberrans over 18 to possess 50 grams of cannabis and to grow two plants.

ACT shadow attorney-general Jeremy Hanson told the assembly the Liberal opposition would not support the bill as it was poorly drafted and could lead to a number of “perverse outcomes”.

Mr Hanson said he was concerned the bill would encourage more people to use the drug or could lead to increased rates of psychosis and people driving under the influence.

He also flagged the fact the law might confuse police as the territory legislation conflicts with commonwealth law.

“This puts not only individuals at a greater level of risk but our police will be out there on the beat working in this unclear legal framework,” Mr Hanson said on Wednesday.

While the federal government has deemed recreational use illegal, the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes has been allowed since 2015.

But Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay told the assembly it was time to treat drug addition as a health issue, declaring the legislation would be coupled with greater drug and alcohol services, and specific drug courts.

He warned the possession and growing of cannabis would remain a federal offence and still carried a risk of prosecution.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said the bill was a matter for the ACT, but where Commonwealth laws applied they remained enforceable.

A spokesman for federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said any problems with Commonwealth law was a matter for the Attorney-General, but the federal government did not support legalising cannabis for recreational use.

It’s not the first time laws introduced by the territory have clashed with federal legislation.

In 2013, the nation’s capital legalised same-sex marriage only to have the federal government revoke the law after it mounted a challenge in the High Court.

Victoria became the first state to legalise medicinal cannabis in 2016, with prescriptions for the drug becoming available in New South Wales and Western Australia shortly after.

Queensland and Tasmania followed suit in 2017, while South Australia and the Northern Territory are yet to legalise medical marijuana. Originally published here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/act-legalises-recreational-cannabis-use/news-story/67b7635617ea1650ba9cabf7eacfbebc

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