If recreation is legal, should the laws on driving drugs change?
According to one investigation ACT parliamentarian, those who smoke a joint and drive the next day face the same penalties as the most intoxicated drivers, even if the drugs are legalized. Last week, a commission mandated in Michigan asked not to set a THC limit for drivers. Today, this is the case with the Australian capital.
Australia's driving under the influence laws are 'disproportionate' and need to be revised as part of the recreational cannabis legalization proposal.
ACT Law Society says ACT provides the harshest penalties in Australia for drug driving and has expressed doubts about how the laws will interact with a proposal to legalize cannabis for use. staff.
Michael Kukulies-Smith, chairman of the criminal law committee and one of Canberra's most successful lawyers, told a legislative committee on Friday that it was necessary further harmonize drunk driving and drug laws if cannabis becomes legal.
As it stands, a first-time offender with traces of cannabis in their system faces the same maximum penalty as a repeat offender accused of impaired driving or driver accused of driving under the influence of alcohol at an average level. This is the case even if they are not debilitated or drunk.
Drivers who have consumed small amounts of cannabis are also subject to the same automatic license disqualification period as a drunk driver - three years - even if it is their first offense. This period may be reduced by the courts to a minimum of six months of disqualification.
“It is clear that alcohol is freely available to adults in our community and can be consumed freely by adults in our community, but we still have, and rightly so, beverage collection legislation that regulates and punishes people. for the degree of impairment they actually have rather than their legal right to consume a single drink, ”said Mr. Kukulies-Smith.
“The same could happen with cannabis legislation:
if a person smoked a few days before being arrested by the police and still had "a small amount of THC in their system" but were "otherwise intact", they would still face the same penalty as repeat drivers caught with a blood alcohol level of 0,08. it is almost certain that if she were arrested she would be convicted of an offense.
Mr Kukulies-Smith also expressed concern about the legal loophole left by removing possession and cultivation of cannabis as a criminal offense in law.
ACT police departments say the vacuum would force them to apply tougher Commonwealth sentences for possession of cannabis.
While the bill's mover, Labor MP Michael Pettersson, said there was a defense for any non-trafficking accusation, provided the use was justified or excused by land law Mr. Kukulies-Smith said this was intended to recognize "legitimate uses" of controlled substances in the community, authorized for health or industrial use. According to him, residents would be legally allowed to carry up to 50 grams of cannabis and would be allowed to grow up to four plants in their homes - the sale of drugs would remain illegal.
He said ambiguity can mean someone ends up in court as a guinea pig to figure out how the law works.
However, ACT could avoid leaving the field by expressly stating that this is an authorization in the law, Kukulies-Smith said.
Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Service Executive Director Julie Tongs also said that while drug law reform is long overdue, more options need to be offered to Indigenous Canberrans struggling with addiction.
“As we all know, Aboriginal people are over-represented in the AMC. We also know that a very high percentage of aboriginal people and people from other disadvantaged backgrounds who go to jail are sent there because of drug crimes and drug addiction. We just need to recognize that drug addiction should be treated as a health issue, not a justice issue. This requires a complete overhaul of our drug laws, ”Ms. Tongs said.
Winnunga Nimmityjah's adviser and former chief labor minister Jon Stanhope said he feared legalization of drugs would have no impact on delinquency, incarceration and rehabilitation of indigenous populations because the infrastructure to treat addiction did not exist.
Although the ACT government spent $ 11,7 million to build a detox house (Ngunnawal Bush) for native people recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction, zoning issues resulted in no service clinic cannot be provided on site.
Tougher penalties for committing an offense of impaired or impaired driving due to the use of a "hard drug" may be justified, but not where a person is driving with a low amount of cannabis in the vehicle. his body " .
The investigation continues in April.