Political push to legalise pot in Canberra could force MORE cannabis smokers behind bars, police warn
- Legalising recreational cannabis use in ACT could push more smokers to jail
- Under current laws, fines usually handed to anyone caught with less than 50g
- But police say they would enforce federal criminal laws if local laws change
- This would mean more smokers would end up behind bars due to federal laws
Legalising the recreational use of cannabis in Canberra would actually result in more smokers ending up behind bars – as police would have ‘no choice’ but to enforce federal criminal laws.
Politicians in the Australian Capital Territory are pushing for the legalisation of cannabis for personal use, allowing people to grow two plants and hold up to 50 grams of the drug.
Under current laws, people caught with less than 50 grams of cannabis in the ACT are usually handed a fine and escape a criminal conviction.
Politicians in The ACT are pushing for the legalisation of cannabis for personal use, which would allow people to grow two plants and hold up to 50 grams of the drug
According to The ABC, police currently give either a fine or up to two years behind bars – but this can be avoided by completing a program.
In a submission to an inquiry, Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said police would have to enforce federal criminal laws even if the territory’s local laws were rescinded.
‘ACT Policing has consulted with both territory and Commonwealth government partners and holds the view that the bill would not negate existing offences within the Criminal Code,’ Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.
‘The removal of ACT offences would remove access to the existing diversion framework … and result in Commonwealth criminal offences becoming the preeminent offence by default.’
In the last five years offenders have been issued 441 fines rather than being charged, keeping them out of the legal system.
The Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association (ATODA) said that number made up just a quarter of people who were arrested in 2018 in regards to cannabis consumption.
In a submission to an inquiry, Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson said police would have to enforce federal criminal laws even if the territory’s local laws were rescinded (stock image)
ATODA suggests the remaining three quarter of people were forced to go before the courts by police.
‘Cannabis consumers (those who use cannabis but do not sell it) are still arrested in the ACT in the hundreds,’ ATODA chief executive Carrie Fowlie wrote to the inquiry.
The recreational use and possession of marijuana in the ACT has been proposed by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson and has the support of the Government.
Under the reformed laws, individuals would be allowed to carry up to 50 grams of cannabis and grow two plants in their home, but not accessible by children.