Page 2796 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022
The Clerk having announced that the terms of the petitions would be recorded in Hansard and referred to the appropriate ministers for response pursuant to standing order 100, the petitions were received.
Pursuant to standing order 99A, the petitions, having more than 500 signatories, were referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety.
The following response to a petition has been lodged:
Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021—oppose—petition 22-22
By Ms Stephen-Smith, Minister for Health, dated 21 September 2022, in response to a petition lodged by Mr Hanson on 2 August 2022, concerning the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2022.
The response read as follows:
Dear Mr Duncan
Thank you for your letter of 2 August 2022 enclosing petition no 22-22, lodged by Mr Jeremy Hanson MLA, concerning the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021 (the Bill). This letter is my response to the petition in line with Standing Order 100.
The Government supports the Bill, as its premise and intent align with the ACT Government’s aim of harm minimisation in relation to the use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD). The Government’s proposed amendments will ensure the Bill can achieve its goals – supporting people with health needs to access care and reducing drug-related stigma to facilitate access.
Impact on drug use
I note that the Bill and Government amendments propose to reduce, not remove, penalties for personal possession of small amounts of illicit drugs and provide an additional option for diversion away from the criminal justice system. Research indicates that drug use is not strongly linked to legislated levels of punishment for personal possession. Many factors influence levels of drug use including the availability of drugs, their price, perceived likelihood of getting caught, and general trends in drug use.
Diversion options for possession offences have been available in the ACT for many years and drug use has trended downwards over that time. Wastewater testing indicated there was no significant change in cannabis use rates in the ACT after adult penalties for small quantity cannabis possession were completely lifted at the end of January 2020. However, the Government will carefully monitor drug trends following any legislative change, and the impact of the legislation will be reviewed.