Page 4939 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 28 November 2018

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Title read by Clerk.

MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (11.17): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I rise today to introduce the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018. This bill will amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 and the ACT Criminal Code 2002, with the effect of legalising cannabis for personal use. The bill will allow individual possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis and will also allow for the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants.

Since I tabled this bill two months ago, I have received overwhelming support from the community. Recent government research has found that 54 per cent of Canberrans support legalising cannabis for personal use and only 27 per cent of Canberrans are opposed to this change.

Many of the submissions I received in consultation were from people with chronic health issues who wanted to legally access cannabis to relieve pain but did not meet the criteria for medicinal cannabis. Some wanted to occasionally, recreationally, smoke cannabis without risking fines or prosecution. Many others did not ever plan on using cannabis themselves but wanted to end the criminalisation of cannabis from a policy perspective. Some submissions were from Canberrans who had had issues with excessive cannabis use but who wanted this to be treated as a health problem, not a criminal justice one.

Clearly, there is enormous community support for legalisation. Canberra has always been a progressive city, at the forefront of legal and social reform. Again Canberrans can lead the country and legalise cannabis for personal use. This bill has such widespread community support that it is now time for us members of this place to legislate.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia. A 2016 national drug survey found that 35 per cent of Australians have used cannabis and 10 per cent have tried it in the past year. That means one in three Australians will try the drug in their lifetime. Statistically, that means one in three members of this place have tried cannabis. I have my suspicions about some of you, but I will leave it until I am outside the chamber to point the finger.

Decades long policies of criminalisation and education programs based solely on abstinence have failed to stop widespread cannabis usage. The origins of cannabis criminalisation in Australia stem from the moral panic in the 1930s in the United States. Cannabis use was linked to sexist and racist tropes that have since been completely debunked.

At the commonwealth level, section 300 of the Criminal Code makes drug trafficking an offence. However, possession of cannabis remains a matter for the states. In the 1990s several states and territories decriminalised the possession of small amounts of

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