Why the ACT Plans to Decriminalise Small Amounts of Illegal Drugs

If your name’s Dazza and you like to do whippets at bush doofs, then maybe it’s time for you to move to Canberra. For the ACT government wants to decriminalise small amounts of illegal drugs. According to The Canberra Times, these drugs include MDMA, cannabis, meth, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and the psilocybine that’s in mushrooms.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith argued that this move is smart, as drug use should be considered a health issue instead of a criminal one. The ABC reported that she said, “We know from research and evidence around the world that criminalising drug users does not reduce drug use, and that treating drug addiction as a health issue improves outcomes for everyone in the community.”

Stephen-Smith also stated, “This legislation is part of our broader suite of policies developed in partnership with experts, people with lived experience and our alcohol and other drug sector to support those most in need to get the help and services they need when they need them.”

It’s worth noting that the ACT will not be making it easier for drug dealers to sell their items. “Illicit drugs are harmful and the ACT government will continue to take a strong stance against drug dealers. This bill does not change that view,” said Stephen-Smith, as per The Canberra Times. She additionally asserted, “The government and ACT Policing will continue to work to reduce supply and prosecute dealers and traffickers through the justice system.”

But this bill doesn’t just decriminalise small amounts of some drugs. It also allows the police to fine someone $100 for having illegal drugs. The police can do this instead of putting this person into the criminal justice ringer. If this individual can’t or doesn’t want to pay this fine, then they can go to a drug diversion program instead.

So, how do Canberrans feel about this bill? Well, most likely, pretty good. According to an ACT government press release, the polling data outlines that only one out of every ten Canberrans think that possessing illegal drugs should be a jail-able offence. 

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