The Morrison government has “no plans” to override the Australian Capital Territory’s new law legalising possession of cannabis, the wellness minister Greg Hunt has mentioned.
On Friday Hunt and treasurer Josh Frydenberg added to a increasing chorus of senior federal ministers criticising the law – of which residence affairs minister Peter Dutton is most vocal – but held the line against straight overriding it.
The lawyer common Christian Porter has warned ACT cannabis customers may well not be protected by the law for the reason that of a separate commonwealth offence and has asked for the Australian Federal Police’s guidance on how they interact.
Hunt told ABC Radio in Melbourne he will leave the legal side of the challenge to Porter, but there are “no plans at this stage” to override the ACT law, which would need an act of federal parliament.
“On the wellness side, I’m pretty concerned – we know that the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK has straight linked marijuana use to psychiatric circumstances such as schizophrenia,” he mentioned.
Hunt mentioned cannabis had a “very important mental wellness risk” citing the truth frequent customers have double the likelihood of schizophrenia, and quadruple for these who began employing it just before the age of 15.
Earlier, Frydenberg mentioned the Morrison government does not assistance the laws and described drug use as “criminal behaviour”.
Frydenberg mentioned the federal government will “review the laws … to recognize the accurate effect among the commonwealth laws and the ACT laws”.
The ACT laws will enable residents more than 18 to possess up to 50 grams and develop two plants. Beneath current legislation, men and women with up to 50 grams or two plants for individual use face fines. If paid inside 60 days, they do not seem on a criminal record.
Nonetheless, Porter has warned separate commonwealth offences may well nevertheless apply and – if they do – “the expectation would be commonwealth laws would be enforced”.
The ACT government believes its new laws generate a defence for ACT residents who could be charged with a commonwealth offence.
The commonwealth director of public prosecutions, Sarah McNaughton, very first advised that commonwealth law permitted a defence for men and women engaged in conduct “justified or excused” by a state or territory law, but then withdrew her guidance citing unspecified “legal complexities”.
A spokesman for the CDPP told Guardian Australia the guidance was withdrawn “following communications with the lawyer-general’s department” and “further legal consideration was offered to the issues”.
“There has not been detailed judicial consideration of the defence contained in [Commonwealth criminal code section] 313.1 and its possible scope,” he mentioned, explaining why the CDPP could not be definitive about the legal danger to ACT residents.
Michael Pettersson, the Labor member of the ACT Legislative Assembly who moved the thriving private member’s bill, told Guardian Australia it was “extraordinary” the CDPP had withdrawn her initial guidance, questioning what “legal technicalities” and correspondence may well have changed her view.
“Peter Dutton could possibly be advocating that they interfere by altering ACT Self-government Act or potentially altering the criminal code,” he mentioned.
“But Greg Hunt is out there saying primarily based on present laws that this is a state and territory challenge.”
Hunt has commissioned study from the national centre for epidemiology at the Australian National University to assess claims by advocates that legalising vaping is a harm minimisation that would aid men and women quit smoking.