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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 September 2019) . . Page.. 3809 ..

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

(Quorum formed.)

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms J Burch) took the chair, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional custodians, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018

Debate resumed from 28 November 2018, on motion by Mr Pettersson:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (10.03): The ACT government’s guiding principle in relation to drug use is one of harm minimisation. As set out in the ACT drug strategy action plan 2018-2021, the ACT government is committed to investing in evidence-based and practice-informed harm minimisation responses to alcohol, to tobacco and to other drugs, and to leading the country in innovative policy approaches. The government’s support of this private member’s bill, with appropriate amendments that we will be considering later this morning, is an example of this government’s willingness to approach drug law reform which aims to minimise harm in our community in progressive and innovative ways.

The government has been clear that it does not condone or encourage the recreational use of cannabis. However, outright prohibition has clearly proven not to work as an effective strategy for dealing with drug use in our community.

The 2017 Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report on organised crime in Australia identified cannabis as the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia. The report noted that almost all cannabis consumed in Australia is cultivated domestically. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s national drug strategy household survey 2016 found that 35 per cent of Australians aged 14 or older had used cannabis in their lifetime and that, in 2016, 8.4 per cent of people aged 14 or older living in the ACT had used cannabis in the past 12 months.

It is clear that what has been done in the past has not worked and that new and more creative approaches must be taken. The focus must be on strategies to prevent and manage the harm caused by illicit drugs in our community and which recognise that drug use is a health issue. In considering harm minimisation initiatives, the government continues to work closely with ACT Policing and recognises that reforms in this area require a collaborative whole-of-government approach.

The ACT has a long history of taking progressive steps and trying new methods to minimise the harm of drugs in our community. This includes being one of the first

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