The ACT Has Decriminalised A Whole Bunch Of Illicit Drugs

Possession of small quantities of MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine and more will no longer attract criminal charges.

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The ACT has become the first jurisdiction in the country to decriminalise common illicit drugs, from psychedelics like LSD and mushrooms to party drugs like cocaine and MDMA.

The new laws do away with criminal charges for those caught with small quantities of illegal drugs in favour of fines and counselling referrals — similar to the consequences for marijuana possession in some parts of the country.

Under the new rules, 1.5 grams and under of cocaine, amphetamines, meth, MDMA, and psilocybin will be considered a decriminalised quantity, while only 1 gram of heroin and 0.001 grams of LSD will be similarly decriminalised.

“This sensible reform is based on the expert advice that a health-focused, harm-reduction approach delivers the best outcome for people using drugs.” ACT health minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith said in a statement.

Meanwhile, in NSW Premier Domonic Perrottet refused a similar recommendation last month to decriminalise small amounts of methamphetamine possession, acknowledging that while people have been “hurt by the scourge of drugs”, the government would not support decriminalisation.

“I disagree with decriminalisation [and] I want to make very clear the NSW government does not support the recommendation to decriminalise drugs in NSW,” Perrottet said in a statement.

“This is the balance you have to get right. We need to send clear messages to people across the state to not take drugs.”

While the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) warned that while the new legislation will see “decriminalisation critics come out of the woodwork”, executive director Chris Gough encouraged everyone to “celebrate” the milestone. 

“We are very proud that once again the ACT finds itself leading the country in developing legislation that recognizes that drug use is a health and human rights issue,” Gough said.

“This is yet another step in the right direction towards stopping the stigma and discrimination that people who use drugs face in society, and although there is more work to do, now is the time to celebrate this remarkable achievement for the ACT.”

The laws are slated to come into effect by late 2023.