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The ABC/Greens alliance is thrilled to announce the ACT's bill to decriminalise heroin, ice, ecstasy et al

The ABC is thrilled to announce

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A bill that would make Canberra the first place in Australia to decriminalise illicit drugs such as heroin, MDMA and methamphetamines is set to be introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly next year from the Government's own back bench.

Labor MLA Michael Pettersson, who introduced a private member's bill in 2018 to legalise cannabis that was ultimately redrafted and passed, said criminal justice measures were not addressing the problem of drug use in the Canberra community.

He said people caught with small amounts of hard drugs should not face the prospect of a criminal conviction.

"We've had laws of prohibition in place for about 100 years. In that 100 years, somehow, 43 per cent of Australians have used an illicit substance [including cannabis]," he said.

"That tells me that the criminal justice system isn't the deterrent we think it is.


And The Greens held up their end of the bargain!

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The ACT Greens are pleased that minimising drug harm is already on the Legislative Assembly’s agenda, having brought the issue to the fore during the ACT election campaign.

“I have firsthand experience caring for someone close to me who has struggled with drug dependency,” said Johnathan Davis, Brindabella MLA and Greens spokesperson on drug harm minimisation.

“When people demonise drug use, they often forget we are talking about people – someone’s son or daughter, their husband, mother, friend. 

“It’s critical that we try new ways to reduce the harmful health, social and economic impacts of drugs on people in our community.

“The Greens are more than prepared to make some big changes this term and I’m excited that an increased progressive majority in the Legislative Assembly means that we can do just that.

“Decriminalising drug possession was one of the policies the Greens took to the ACT election, so we’re looking forward to discussing details of the proposed legislation.

“Reforming how we treat, and talk about, harms from drug use is just another way we can build a better future for all Canberrans.

“It’s important that any policies and programs concerning drugs and people who use drugs are evidence-driven, including input from people who use or have used drugs,” Mr Davis said.

The Drug and Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan the Greens announced during the ACT election campaign includes commitments to:

  • Immediately double funding for drug and alcohol treatment services to $40 million per annum, thereby dramatically reducing long wait times for rehabilitation and detoxification services
  • Help keep more young people safe, by delivering routine pill testing on weekends in central Canberra and ensuring that alcohol and drug testing available at Canberra clubs, venues, gigs and festivals 
  • Pilot a safe drug consumption site - an ACT first
  • Deliver a First Nations-led dedicated community controlled medical withdrawal and rehabilitation service - for community, by community
  • Increase access to medicinal cannabis and improving the current medicinal cannabis scheme
  • Better address mental health and drug issues at the same time
  • Invest in world-leading psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy trials
  • Enhance drug diversion pathways to keep more people out of the criminal justice system, and give those in need support to move away from drug dependency.