Drug Policy: Smoke Blown in Your Eyes

2 September 2022


Following an Inquiry, the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill 2021 is before the ACT Assembly and aims to amend the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989.

The Amendment Bill, put forward by ALP backbencher Michael Pettersson and supported by the Australian Greens, among other things, raises the personal possession limit of several illegal drugs:

  • Amphetamine: 2 grams
  • Cannabis, dried: 50 grams
  • Cannabis, harvested: 150 grams
  • Cocaine: 2 grams
  • Heroin: 2 grams
  • LSD: 0.002 grams
  • Lysergic acid: 0.002 grams
  • MDMA: 0.5 grams
  • Methadone: 2 grams
  • Psilocybin: 2 grams

The Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 carries penalties for possession, sale, supply of prohibited substances and drugs of dependence.

The proposed amendment aims to overturn the harm-prevention approach of the 1989 Act despite the Australian Federal Police and the ACT Police Association expressing concerns over an expected increase in drug use, criminal activity and drug trafficking as a result.

This is exactly what has happened in many other jurisdictions when possession was legalised, as shown in the official European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) statistics.

On the other hand, under John Howard, Australia implemented the Tough on Drugs policy in 1998, which outlined the possibility of a criminal conviction for any illicit drug use, possession, or trafficking. By 2007, drug use in Australia had decreased by 42 per cent and overdose deaths plummeted 68 per cent. Good drug policy works!

Terrible Cost

The Australian community gets it. They understand the issues around hard drugs as shown in the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of more than 22,000 Australians. It showed that 99 per cent of Australians do not approve of the use of heroin, speed and ice, 97 per cent the use of cocaine and 96 per cent of ecstasy. Put simply, this Amendment Bill does not pass the pub test!

The harm these drugs cause to social cohesion cannot be exaggerated. It’s the mums and dads that are carrying the emotional and financial burden of addicted loved ones. These families are too often the victims of crime – theft, violence. Rehabilitation is costly for families and quickly eats up hard-earned savings or superannuation.

The number of children who are living out of home has increased in the ACT since 2015 from over 600 to around 900, in many cases, this is the result of an addicted parent or guardian that leads to neglect of the children. Legalising possession of drugs is permission-giving for drug use, which easily leads to increasing drug use and rates of addiction.

Clash with Federal Law

How will ACT legislation stand in relation to Commonwealth law? Given that policing in the ACT is the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police, how will the police operate when the jurisdiction is under federal law?

The Commonwealth Criminal Code (part 9.1) creates a range of drug offences including possession. Will Commonwealth law override the ACT Bill, if it is passed?

At the time of the Inquiry, the Morrison Government responded to this proposed legislation by stating that Commonwealth laws, particularly section 308.1(1) of the Criminal Code, would still apply in the ACT and that it would be expected that the AFP would enforce the Commonwealth law in the ACT.

As Peter Cain, Liberal MLA for Ginninderra, points out in his nine-page Dissenting Report to the Inquiry:

“It is fundamental to the rule of law that a jurisdiction should not enact legislation that is inconsistent with the laws of a superior jurisdiction.

“Further, the police would have different obligations under ACT and Commonwealth law and preferring the ACT approach with respect to these extremely harmful substances would place them at risk. The Legislative Assembly cannot conscionably place this burden on the police.”

Consider the Consequences

The AFP has voiced strong opposition to the Bill. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said these laws will make for “a far more dangerous environment” for police and lead to “a more dangerous society”.

A spokesman for the Police Association said:

“The only people who will benefit from this exercise are organised criminals and drug dealers.”

AFPA president Alex Caruana said:

“The Government may as well write a cheque for organised crime and roll out the welcome mat.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia (ACT Branch) observed that:

“Decriminalisation of dangerous drugs may increase use and therefore increase the presentation of people at treatment centres and pharmacies, and increase the burden on the Territory’s resources.”

The Inquiry into these laws that was conducted by a Legislative Assembly committee itself admitted that drug-treatment services are already over­stretched and inadequately resourced and staffed.

The fact remains that decriminalising hard drugs will increase drug supply and usage, increase crime, increase addiction, increase road trauma and stretch already overloaded treatment services.

This Bill certainly fails the pub test, so it should fail in the Parliament.


Originally published at News Weekly. Photo by Igor Mashkov.

We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.

Fake news and censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate now.

Leave A Comment

Recent Articles:

Use your voice today to protect

Faith · Family · Freedom · Life



The Daily Declaration is an Australian Christian news site dedicated to providing a voice for Christian values in the public square. Our vision is to see the revitalisation of our Judeo-Christian values for the common good. We are non-profit, independent, crowdfunded, and provide Christian news for a growing audience across Australia, Asia, and the South Pacific. The opinions of our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Declaration. Read More.