Legality in the ACT and federal law

From 1 February, 2020 new rules around personal use of cannabis were introduced in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Cannabis is not legal, but amendments have been made which exempt individuals from criminal liability in certain circumstances. From 31 January, 2020 you can possess up to 50 g dried cannabis or 150 g fresh cannabis and grow up to two plants at home, per person, with a maximum four plants per household (if aged over 18).

From 31 January, 2020 it’s an offence to smoke or use cannabis in a public place, expose a child or young person to cannabis smoke, store cannabis where children can reach it, grow cannabis using hydroponics or artificial cultivation or, grow cannabis plants where they can be accessed by the public. From 31 January, 2020 it is still illegal: to sell, share or give cannabis as a gift to another person, for people aged under 18 to grow, have, or use and, to drive with any amount in your system.

If a police officer reasonably believes an individual has committed a simple cannabis offence, and is not an exempt person, they may issue a Simple Cannabis Offence Notice (SCON). Those under 18 are not exempt people and may be issued a SCON or diverted to a drug and alcohol diversion program. Penalties for drug use or possession are at the discretion of the court, serious offences can incur fines up to $250,000.00 and life imprisonment. For information on drug related offences and penalties refer to the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989, the ACT Criminal Code 2002, the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 and the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 (ACT)

Commonwealth law is applicable across Australia and all police officers are empowered to enforce these laws. Key Commonwealth legislation includes the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995 and the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Cth). ACT police officers have discretion to utilise ACT or Commonwealth laws, and will, depending on the situation. As such, police can seize cannabis as evidence of a potential offence under Commonwealth law and subsequently destroy it.

National Drug Strategy Fact – Australian Capital Territory – Among those aged 14 and over: One in 12 smoked tobacco daily; One in five consumed five or more drinks in one sitting (at least monthly); One in seven used an illicit drug in the past 12 months; more than two in three supported testing of drugs/pills at designated sites.

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