History was made in Australia last night as the ACT Legislative assembly voted to decriminalise the possession of a range of commonly used illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and ecstasy.
We campaigned with our allies and partners and you our incredible Fair Treatment community, to make this moment happen. Meeting with Territory and Federal politicians from all persuasions, hundreds of emails to the Chief Minister, speaking to the media, meeting with churches and other community organisation and polling the community has led to this incredible outcome. We are thrilled to see that decriminalisation will apply to both methamphetamine and heroin.
Our polling showed that nearly 80% of the ACT community support health and welfare responses instead of criminalising people who use drugs. And the politicians listened!
We welcome this as a step in the right direction but firmly believe the decision could be braver and we urge the government to go further.
Under the amended Bill, possession of these illicit substances for personal use will be subject to no more than a $100 fine and will not result in a criminal record.
However, our same polling showed that 70% of ACT residents also support prioritise health-based responses over fines.
Additionally, those caught with more than a “small quantity” of these drugs in their possession, but below what’s termed as “traffickable quantities“, will unfortunately continue to be subject to criminal punishment, with a possible maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and/or 50 penalty units (a fine of up to $8000).
A robust evaluation system will be critical in monitoring the outcomes of the legislation.