The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has decriminalised the personal use of illicit drugs, becoming the first place in Aussie to do so.
Under the new law, rather than facing jail time, people caught with an amount of drugs deemed to be for personal use will face a fine of AU$100 (NZ$109). They can skip paying the fine if they attend an illicit drug counselling class.
October of 2023 is when the law will kick into place and includes drugs such as Methamphetamine, Cocaine, MDMA, Heroin, and more. ACT decriminalised the personal use of weed back in 2020.
Michael Petterson, an ACT politician, says the decision was made with a harm-reduction mindest rather than a punishment mindset.
“People that use recreation drugs are taking a risk, and certain drugs cause more harm than others,” he said, as reported by ABC News.
“If people are using a substance like methamphetamine, we need to make sure that we do not continue to criminalise them and make it even easier for them to come forward and access the support that they might need.”
Rachel Stephen-Smith, ACT’s health minister, said that people who have been negatively affected by drug use called for the change, and specialists recommended it after an inquiry.
“We know that treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal one is not only reducing harm for those individuals who use drugs, but also ultimately ends up building a safer community,” she said.
“It both reduces harm associated with engagement with the criminal justice system – which is a harm in itself – [and] reduces the stigma associated with drug use and encourages people to come forward for the support and treatment that is going to help them recover from their dependence."
Hopefully, this means that people using drugs have a better relationship with the stuff and become more educated on what they're taking.