On Saturday 28 October 2023, the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Use) Amendment Act 2022 will come into effect, thereby decriminalising the personal possession of small amounts of illicit substances in the ACT.
Michael Pettersson, ACT Labor MLA for Yerrabi, was the proponent of this nation-leading health approach to drug use, having introduced the original Private Members Bill in 2021. He was also responsible for the removal of penalties for personal cannabis possession in 2020.
“From Saturday 28 October, people possessing small amounts of certain illicit drugs for personal use will no longer be exposed to criminal sentencing but instead may face a fine, be issued a caution, or be referred to an illicit drug diversion program. We’ve worked with experts, service providers and people with lived experience to ensure that we are well prepared for this change,” said Mr Pettersson.
“These reforms are a commonsense step forward that finally puts healthcare before handcuffs and allows our most vulnerable to get the help that they need.”
“I believe that Canberrans understand that the “just say no” approach hasn’t stopped people from using drugs. It never has and it never will. The community and the experts recognise that threatening people with jail time or a criminal conviction is unproductive, and ultimately feeds into cycles of recidivism.” “I want to thank the ACT Labor members, policymakers and advocates who have played a key role in helping us to deliver these important law reforms.”