In early 2021, I introduced the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly.
The Bill provides amendments to reform the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 and decriminalise the personal possession of small amounts of illicit drugs in the ACT. It creates a ‘Simple Drug Offence Notice’ (SDON) for the possession, in small amounts, of common illicit drugs such as psilocybin, cocaine, heroin, methylamphetamine and MDMA.
The ‘Simple Drug Offence Notice’ is the same framework used by the ACT for cannabis decriminalisation. This offers police an alternative to charging individuals with a criminal offence for personal possession. This means that if someone is caught in possession of a small quantity of drugs they will be issued a fine and have the drugs confiscated. Instead of receiving a criminal conviction the person will be directed to a relevant medical or education service.
It’s important to note that the Bill will not change current penalties for possession above the new decriminalised thresholds. It also won’t change current penalties for supply, trafficking, driving under the influence of drugs and manufacture. These offences will remain criminal offences.
It’s clear that the “just say no” approach hasn’t stopped people from using drugs and it has hindered our ability to provide appropriate harm reduction measures. Drug use is a public health issue and it’s time to treat it like one.
It’s time for our drug laws to reflect our values.
If you want to learn more about the Bill, the Committee inquiry or watch my speech on the Bill click the links below.