Page 3479 - Week 10 - Thursday, 20 October 2022

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Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021

Detail stage

Debate resumed.

Clause 4.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (5.01), by leave: Recognising that standing order 141 would result in Mr Davis’s amendments not being moved if we concluded this debate on my amendment at this time, pursuant to standing order 144, I withdraw amendment No 7.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5:02): by leave, I move amendments Nos 1 to 3 circulated in my name together and table a supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments [see schedule 3 at page 3507].

Today I will be moving a series of amendments to Mr Pettersson’s Drugs of Dependence Personal Use Amendment Bill 2021. From the very outset, I would genuinely like to thank: Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith for her ongoing collaboration with my office, through the work of these amendments; my colleagues Mr Cain and Dr Paterson, for working together on the select committee into this inquiry; and, most importantly, Mr Pettersson, for the strength of his convictions and the courage to bring reformist policy like this to the Assembly.

I propose my amendments because I want to get the best outcome here, and I hope that my ambition is received as such. These amendments will represent the best legal interpretation of what it would mean to genuinely decriminalise the personal possession of drugs in the ACT. They are based on the best available evidence as it pertains to the patterns of personal possession of drugs in the ACT and are modelled on the successful cannabis legislation which has been in operation in the ACT for almost three years.

The limits that we are proposing are not outrageous and would not make the sky fall in. They come from ACT government commissioned research from the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the University of New South Wales and correspond with the limits that already exist in Criminal Code regulation.

My amendments seek to create a fairer environment for the governance of the possession of drugs, one that reflects the reality that most drug use is recreational and done in the pursuit of happiness and causes little harm to individuals or their community. It reflects the reality that the vast majority of harms caused by drug use occur because of the criminalisation of drug use and not in spite of it.

The history of the criminalisation of drugs is caught up in the oppression of minorities and in the pious and moralistic notion that our existence is for the primary purpose of producing wealth for others. But a belief in decriminalisation, in true decriminalisation, also reflects the reality that, like alcohol consumption, drug use can be problematic. It can be practised in such a way that does have unavoidable risks that

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