The ACT is set to become the first Australian jurisdiction to decriminalise small amounts of commonly used illicit drugs, such as ice, heroin, cocaine and speed.
Under a proposed law that the government has now endorsed, police would continue to target dealers and try to disrupt Canberra’s drug trade.
However, people found with amounts considered to be “personal possession” — smaller than trafficable quantities — would be subject to fines rather than criminal charges.
The decision follows the recommendations of a Legislative Assembly inquiry into the proposal, which was tabled by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson last year.
The government indicated on Thursday it would support the bill but make several amendments to it, such as clarifying the size of “personal” doses.
The legislation will cover most common illicit substances, including LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstacy) and psyilocybin (magic mushrooms).
The ACT was also the first — and remains the only — state or territory to legalise the personal use of cannabis, another of Mr Pettersson’s bills.
The bill, introduced by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson, would amend the existing Drugs of Dependence Act to change the way those caught with a personal supply are dealt with.
The amounts considered “personal possession” would be limited by weight, and include 0.5 grams of MDMA and 2 grams of cocaine, heroin, ice and mushrooms.
MDMA (ecstasy) 0.5 grams
amphetamine 2 grams
cocaine 2 grams
heroin 2 grams
LSD (acid) 0.002 grams
methylamphetamine (ice) 2 grams
psilocybin (mushrooms) 2 grams
Drug trafficking, supply and drug driving would remain a crime under the proposed laws.
Canberra Liberals leader Elizabeth Lee said the opposition was open to change, provided it was based on evidence.
“There are a lot of people we need to speak to including legal experts and health experts and people who have been users, and it’s important as legislators that we listen to those people and make an informed decision,” Ms Lee said.
The bill will now go before an inquiry where it will be scrutinised before it returns to the Assembly for a vote.
“The key question for me is what other supports are available if this bill were to be implemented,” Ms Lee said.
“But sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and that’s why the inquiry is important because there could be other questions that come up”.
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