Canberra, the Capital city of Australia, recently voted to become the first state or territory to legalize recreational cannabis in the country. Effective January 31, 2020, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will allow adults (18+) to possess and cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes. Although it contradicts federal law, this shows Australia is starting to follow the legalization trend.
The ACT Legislative Assembly voted on this measure on Sept. 25, 2019, and will allow people to carry up to 1.8 ounces of dried marijuana. It also allows people to grow up to two plants per person, with a maximum of four plants in one household. Before this legalization, the same possession amount could cost you as much as 160 Australian Dollars ($108 USD). Possession of anything more than that will result in a maximum of 8,000 Australian dollars ($5,411 USD) or two years in prison, possibly both.
Last year alone Australia saw around 72,000 cannabis-related arrests, with 92 percent of those arrests being cannabis consumers. This new legalization is going to dramatically affect the ACT area, but the rest of the country still isn’t prepared to legalize it. Each territory and state have their over laws on the possession of marijuana, but none of them have legalized it yet. In 2016, The Australian Parliament passed a measure that allowed the use and research of medical marijuana for scientific purposes. Despite that, the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana are against federal law.
It’s possible for the Australian Parliament to overturn this decision. This happened in 2013 when the ACT legalized same-sex marriage. The federal government denied the vote for “being inconsistent with federal law.”
The recent legalization of medical marijuana has led people to believe this legalization is here to stay. Australia’s neighboring country, New Zealand, is set to have a referendum next year to legalize marijuana. It’s going to be interesting to see how the rest of the country reacts to this decision. Many people believe a domino effect will begin, the same way it has in the United States.
Drug trafficking has become the main focus of local authorities. The city capital can expect to see much more police activity around the border than on the streets. This effectively means an underground economy is going to start to grow even stronger in the country.
Nonetheless, Australia’s first legalized city is going to be a test grounds for the rest of the country. The country can expect to see an increase in demand if the law goes through in a couple of months. If all goes well, we can possibly see Australia become the next country to legalize marijuana.