***The below statement is attributable to ACT Chief Police Officer, Neil Gaughan***
Tomorrow, Saturday 28 October 2023, changes to the Drugs of Dependence Amendment (Personal Possession) Bill come into effect. Over the past 12 months, ACT Policing has been working closely with ACT Health and a range of stakeholders on the implementation of these changes.
This Australian-first legislation reduces the penalty for the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs in the ACT.
It is however important to remember that drug possession remains a criminal offence – the legislation has simply reduced the penalties that now apply. This is all that has changed.
The ACT is not a place where people can do drugs freely.
Police will still seize illicit drugs if we see them, even in small quantities, and will continue to divert the majority of personal possession offences to our partners at Canberra Health Services.
It is also important to note drug driving laws have not changed – it remains an offence to have any amount of an illicit substance in your system while driving.
ACT Policing supports harm minimisation strategies, and agrees that drug dependency is an issue best addressed by the health system.
Our focus remains on those who bring drugs into the Territory and profit from their distribution among our community. We will continue to target drug trafficking and criminality driven by drug use, not drug possession offences.
POLICE MEDIA — (02) 5126 9070, email@example.com