Canberra has a new distinguishing feature: you will soon be able to legally toke in the capital.
The Australian Capital Territory has become the territory to legalise growing or possessing marijuana for personal use. That means not just decriminaling, but legalising it.
Canberrans over 18 will be able to possess 50 grams of weed and grow two plants – just as soon as the ACT’s health minister signs off on when the law would come into effect.
This is what around 50 grams of marijuana looks like:
The ACT Legislative Assembly passed the legalise cannabis private member’s bill on Wednesday after it won the backing of Labor and the Greens.
The Labor Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, acknowledged possessing and growing cannabis would remain a federal offence, but argued this would not be an issue, and that the Commonwealth would not try to fight the territory on this.
A spokeswoman for ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the Government had consulted with ACT Policing and the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.
Though cannabis is decriminalised in the ACT, meaning possession attracts a $100 fine and no criminal record, the Liberals refused to support the bill partly on the grounds it would encourage people to use cannabis, which would increase rates of drug-driving and psychosis.
It’s not clear how the Federal Government will respond.
In 2013, the ACT legalised same-sex marriage only to have the Federal Government overturn the law after it took a challenge to the High court.
In response to the ACT’s bill, Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said Commonwealth laws remain enforceable, while a spokesman for Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Federal Government did not support legalising cannabis for recreational use.
Under current federal law, possession for personal use is punishable by jail, but most of the time federal drug enforcement targets import and export offences. Simple possession offences are almost always prosecuted under the laws of the states and territories.
Amendments made to the original bill bar adults from using cannabis near children or growing it in community gardens.