Attorney-General Christian Porter warns ACT residents cannabis possession is still against the law – ABC News

Posted October 20, 2019 11:50:18

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has written to the ACT Government to warn the territory’s new cannabis laws do not provide the legal protections it aimed to achieve.

Key points:

  • The ACT Parliament passed changes that legalised the possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis per person
  • But Attorney-General Christian Porter said the ACT laws did not provide a defence to federal laws that criminalise this possession
  • He has advised the territory that it is still against the law to possess cannabis in the ACT

The new laws passed last month, allowing for the possession, use and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis.

„Their law has not done what they think it does, which is provide some kind of defence or out for people who would be possessing cannabis in the ACT, it doesn’t do that,” Mr Porter told the ABC’s Insiders program.

„They’ve not achieved what it is I think that they set out to achieve, legally.”

The changes legalise the possession up to 50 grams per person and a maximum of four plants per ACT household.

The legislation conflicts directly with Commonwealth laws prohibiting the possession of cannabis.

Mr Porter made the conclusion after his office last week saw the full details of the changes.

„The Commonwealth law that criminalises possession of cannabis in amounts under 50 grams is still valid law in the ACT,” Mr Porter said.

„The ACT laws removed the criminal component at a Territory level but didn’t establish anything that is a positive right to possess, which means there’s no defence to the Commonwealth law that criminalises amounts under 50 grams.

„So my advice and the advice that I’ve provided to the ACT Attorney-General is that it is still against the law of the Commonwealth to possess cannabis in the ACT.”

On Sunday, Mr Porter wrote to his ACT counterpart Gordon Ramsay to express his warning.

„I would expect that ACT Policing will continue to enforce ACT and Commonwealth drug laws in accordance with their processes and procedures for investigating suspected breaches of criminal laws,” Mr Porter wrote.

The new laws will come into effect early next year and have been the subject of much criticism from senior federal ministers.

Last week Mr Ramsay warned Mr Porter against any challenge to the legislation.

„The Act has been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly as a self-governing body with the authority to make laws for people of the ACT,” Mr Ramsay wrote.

„I reiterate my previous advice that this legislation expresses the will of the ACT people and convey my deep concern should the Commonwealth seek in any way to overrule and intervene in the democratic processes of the ACT.”

The ACT Government has been contacted for comment.

Topics: drugs-and-substance-abuse, community-and-society, drug-use, federal—state-issues, states-and-territories, federal-government, government-and-politics, health, law-crime-and-justice, drug-offences, australia, act

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