Last month, Australia’s Capital Territory legalised the possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes, becoming the first jurisdiction in the country to do so. The new laws, which are set to come into effect on January 31, 2020, will allow Canberrans over the age of 18 to possess 50 grams of dry weed and grow two plants. And the Federal Government is none too happy with the landmark legislation.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, for one, wants to know what evidence regarding the health impacts of cannabis were considered by the ACT government before the passing of the bill, the ABC reports, and has penned a letter to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr asking him to clarify as much. Other senior government ministers also questioned the legislation, calling it "crazy" and suggesting the ACT Government is spending "too much time smoking hooch."
In his letter, Hunt expressed “serious concerns the ACT's legislation will result in further health harms and exacerbate mental health issues, particularly for those who have a family history of mental health disorders.” The Health Minister also attached research on the physical and mental health effects of recreational weed use, and noted that “both the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of Surgeons have also expressed concerns over the legislation, with the latter calling for it to be reversed."
"I call on you to explain whether the ACT Government considered the international evidence on the health effects of cannabis and to provide any evidence to the contrary," he wrote in the letter.
The laws will apply to the ACT only, and directly conflict with Commonwealth legislation prohibiting the possession and use of cannabis. While passing the bill, Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay acknowledged that possessing and growing cannabis would remain a federal offence, and the risk of prosecution was therefore “not entirely removed”, but said that “in practice” those laws would not apply.
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter is still considering the legalities of the bill, however, and has not ruled out a motion seeking to have the laws overturned.