By Michael Inman/News,
Dire warnings of legal loopholes, a mental health crisis and drug driving fears accompanied the legalisation of cannabis in the ACT last year. But one year on, cannabis users and stakeholders alike say that, while overall the impacts have been subtle, the change has been for the better. "Overall, we found cannabis use hasn't changed and, in some ways, that's the big story, because there were really dire predictions at the outset," Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT chief executive Devin Bowles said. "The sky hasn't fallen and people who need to access treatment are better able to do so while the taxpayer is saving money. It's a win-win."
So what changed a year ago?
The legislation changed the laws governing personal possession, use and cultivation of cannabis in Canberra. Coming into effect on January 31 last year, the new laws allowed possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis per person, and made it legal to grow and consume cannabis in your own home. The plants must be grown outdoors and there is a limit of two plants per person and four per household. While possession and cultivation became legal, buying the seeds and supplying cannabis or cannabis plants to anyone remained illegal. But the legislation is at odds with Commonwealth cultivation and possession laws, which still make it unlawful to possess cannabis in the ACT.