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Australia’s Attorney General Says Canberra’s Cannabis Legalization Law Does Not Provide Legal Protection

Australia’s capital city of Canberra became the first part of the country to legalize adult-use cannabis possession and cultivation last month, but Attorney General Christian Porter has since announced that Canberra’s new law clashes with federal laws and does not provide legal protection, ultimately rendering it ineffective.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly voted in September to legalize possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis and the home cultivation of two plants starting Jan. 31, 2020. While the possession of small amounts of cannabis has been decriminalized in other parts of the country, the ACT is the first of the nation’s eight states and territories to legalize possession and cultivation, and cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

Porter has been reviewing the ACT laws and sent a letter to the ACT attorney general on Oct. 20, indicating that federal prohibition will not change, according to a Reuters report.

“They’re terrible laws for a variety of reasons,” Porter told an ABC television show, according to the news outlet. “The ACT laws removed the criminal component at a territory level but didn’t establish anything that is a positive right to possess, which means that there’s no defense to the Commonwealth law that criminalizes amounts under 50 grams.”

Porter said it would not be necessary for the federal government to intervene and override the ACT’s legislation, Reuters reported, because the ACT’s law is essentially ineffective.

“If they leave their law as it is, why would there be any need to override a law which is effectively to no effect?” he told the news outlet.

Meanwhile, Australia is embracing cannabis reform in other areas, as the federal government announced earlier this month that it will provide $3 million to fund research into how medical cannabis might be able to help cancer patients. In addition, the University of Notre Dame Australia in Perth recently announced that a team of researchers has embarked on a clinical trial to learn how cannabis can be used to tread the adverse behavioral effects of dementia.

Patients with a prescription from a doctor have been able to legally access medical cannabis since 2017.

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