Canberra, the capital of Australia, is paving the way for legal cannabis in the country. On Wednesday, the city made history by legalizing recreational cannabis use and cultivation. Now, Australians over the age of 18 can legally possess and grow the plant!
Cannabis is not entirely new to Australia. They have operated a medical marijuana program since 2016.
Similar to the US, however, cannabis is still federally illegal in Australia, which raises many concerns among not only citizens, but officials.
What do critics of Australia’s new legalization have to say?
According to ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Attorney-General Gordan Ramsay, anyone who takes part in these new regulations is putting themselves at risk. He argues that despite legalization within the ACT, consumption, possession, and growth are still prosecutable offenses under Commonwealth Law.
While it is unlikely that Commonwealth officials will take the time to charge citizens with cannabis use or possession (just like we rarely see federal prosecution of small, personal cannabis possession/use in the US), it is possible.
However, not everyone in the ACT agrees with Ramsay. For example, Michael Petterson, a labor leader, refutes this claim. In an interview from The Guardian, he says “Prosecutors will not be bringing charges because, quite simply, there is a complete defence to the commonwealth drug charge.” He then goes on to say “I don’t think it’s particularly likely the commonwealth government will try to fight this.”
Restrictions of the new laws
There are still regulations on cannabis in Australia, which are similar to those of the US. Cannabis may not be consumed in public areas, and must not be attainable by children at any time. Australia did not allow for any commercialization of the plant, just personal use.
The passing of this recreational cannabis law in Australia likely bodes well for a neighboring country as well. Right next door, New Zealand prepares to vote on a recreational marijuana referendum of their own in 2020. Stay tuned for more updates.
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