Australian capital legalises recreational marijuana in a national first

Support us and go ad-free

Australia’s capital has become the first part of the country to legalise recreational marijuana for personal use.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly voted on Wednesday to legalise possession by adults of up to 50 grams (1.8 ounces) of dried marijuana and cultivation of two marijuana plants beginning on January 31.

The assembly is the local government of Canberra, the national capital with a population of 400,000.

The law requires that adults not use marijuana near children and to store it out of their reach.

Owners cannot sell or supply their marijuana to anyone else.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Households are limited to growing no more than four plants, regardless of the number of occupants.

Attorney General Gordon Ramsay said it was time to treat drug addiction as a health issue rather than an issue of “right and wrong”.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalised throughout Australia, but the ACT is the first of Australia’s eight states and territories to take the next step of legalising possession and cultivation.

Marijuana users in Canberra, however, will still face some legal uncertainty – because possession of small amounts of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said such prosecutions would require approval of federal prosecutors, who are “concerned with larger matters than the possession of a small amount of drug”. Federal prosecutors, meanwhile, have declined to provide the government with advice on the likelihood of such prosecutions.

Barr said police charging Canberra marijuana smokers under federal law “would be outrageous”, but the smokers could cite the territory law in their defence before a judge.

Australian Federal Police chief officer Ray Johnson said Canberra police had been advised to “focus on the traffickers”, but that officers were free to enforce federal law.

Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer issued a joint statement with the Take Control drug law reform campaign congratulating the territory on the change.

“I welcome what I consider to be a courageous decision by the ACT parliament to put control into a completely uncontrolled environment,” the statement said.

Medical marijuana has been available in Australia to patients with doctors’ prescriptions since 2017.

The ACT is renowned for its liberal policies toward illicit drugs. In April, for example, Canberra hosted Australia’s first pill-testing facility at a music festival so that drug users could have their illicit substances analysed for unexpected contaminates before taking them.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us