Media release – CAHMA celebrates ACT Drug Decriminalisation Bill 2022 passing into law

The Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy (CAHMA) has today welcomed the passing of the Drugs of Dependence Bill 2022 through the ACT Legislative Assembly.   

“This is an important step forwards in addressing the harms caused by the criminalisation of drugs” Chris Gough, Executive Director of CAHMA stated.  “At CAHMA 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.  The tireless advocacy of our highly marginalised community was instrumental in the development of this bill.  As was the advocacy of so many allies who are willing to follow the evidence and make bold changes in order to ensure a human rights basis for our laws and society.  CAHMA acknowledges that many from our community have suffered significantly from the criminalisation of drugs and we remember these people today as substantial legislative change is solidified.” 

Under the new legislation people who are found with small quantities of common illicit drugs (including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and MDMA) may access a Simple Drug Offence Notice (SDON), meaning people will have the choice between paying a $100 fine or being referred to a healthcare provider instead of receiving a criminal conviction.  There will now be a 12 month period of implementation before the laws will take effect in October 2023. 

Speaking to the affected community Chris Gough stressed “It’s exciting news, but we urge our community to understand that the implementation of this legislation is still 12 months away and these drugs will remain criminalised in the interim.  The community must also realise that police discretion still applies and that larger possession quantities will still attract a criminal conviction.  Over the next year CAHMA looks forward to communicating these key messages and working with key stakeholders to ensure that the rollout of this legislation is successful.” 

“CAHMA congratulates Michael Pettersson for presenting the Bill and the Legislative Assembly for ensuring that this important issue is progressed.  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. We will strive to ensure that we support our most marginalized communities and work towards human rights and health equity for all people in our society.” Chris Gough stated. 

Written by Anonymous

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