Authored By: Julian R Murphy
On 31 January 2020, the cultivation and possession of small quantities of hashish turned authorized below the legislation of the Australian Capital Territory (‘ACT’) with the approaching into impact of the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Act 2019 (ACT). This seemed to be a major milestone in Australia’s regulation of private drug use. As had already occurred with ‘pill testing’,1 the ACT seemed to be breaking new floor in hurt minimisation drug insurance policies whereas the remaining of Australia watched on. The new ACT legislation might have been a paradigm instance of laboratory federalism, whereby a small jurisdiction experiments with legal guidelines and insurance policies that aren’t but palatable or possible elsewhere within the nation.2 It appears unlikely, nevertheless, that the story will likely be that straightforward. The federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has stated that the brand new ACT legislation doesn’t present a defence to the federal hashish possession offence.3 Porter has pointedly remarked that he expects the Australian Federal Police (‘AFP’) to proceed imposing the federal offence.4 Accordingly, ACT residents rising or possessing small quantities of hashish run the chance of federal prosecution. This state of affairs is unsatisfactory and untenable for a quantity of causes, however significantly as a result of of the way in which the Damoclean sword of federal prosecution is getting used to discourage conduct that has been decriminalised by the democratic processes of the ACT.