A bill to decriminalise small amounts of illicit drugs in the ACT could inadvertently enable drug trafficking, the territory's police have warned.
Police have urged for reduction in proposed possession limits for heroin and ice, saying that two grams of ice could equate to about 20 doses and was "far above" regular personal use limits.
In a submission to an inquiry into the bill, ACT Policing said traffickers have already taken advantage of the 50 gram possession limit for dry cannabis in the territory.
Under the private members' bill, put forward by Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson in February, Canberrans would not face criminal sanctions for possessing small amounts of certain drugs.
The proposed changes would set a possession limit of two grams for cocaine, ice and heroin and 0.5 grams for ecstasy.
Those caught with drugs within the possession limits would face a fine of $100 as opposed to going through the criminal justice system.
ACT Policing said in its submission the possession amounts across the drugs "appears to be inconsistent".
"For instance, two grams of heroin could be approximately eight doses; two grams of methylamphetamine (ice) could be approximately 20 doses; 0.5 grams of MDMA could be less or more than one dose depending on purity," the submission said.
While police welcomed the proposed law and supported harm minimisation they said some proposed possession limits could lead to trafficking, and said the limits for heroin and ice should be revised down.
"If enacted in its current form, the bill would have the inadvertent effect of enabling trafficking," the submission said.
The submission said police: "would like to see more of an evidence base that the proposed thresholds for each substance are based on research specific for the ACT".
ACT Policing said it was already aware of drug traffickers selling cannabis using their knowledge of the laws. The possession and cultivation of cannabis in the ACT was legalised in early 2020.
In its submission, police outlined a situation in which there had been an anonymous report about a man who had sold drugs at a children's playground.
When police arrived at the playground they found a man who had nine clip seal bags of cannabis in a bum bag along with a $10 note.
The man denied selling cannabis and successfully argued the amount was within the possession limit.
Police were unable to get any evidence as no witnesses gave a formal statement and the man got off. However, the man was later arrested and charged with trafficking cannabis to three Indigenous children, the youngest was 12 years old.
Several submissions to an inquiry into the amendment bill have been made public.
Of the 13 public submissions so far, most are in support of the decriminalisation. A number of submissions called for better financial support for the alcohol and other drugs sector to support people seeking treatment.
Canberra Community Law in its submission said the bill should provide alternative punishments for those who cannot afford the $100 fine. It has recommended a mechanism be introduced to allow people to complete community work or pay the penalty in instalments.
"A penalty of $100 for a simple drug offence is a potentially oppressive form of punishment for people experiencing homelessness in circumstances where it is not uncommon for them to accrue excessive infringement notices, fines and charges for minor poverty related criminal offending," the Canberra Community Law submission said.
ACT Council of Social Services chief executive Emma Campbell said: "The development of this bill is an opportunity for the ACT to demonstrate leadership in drug policy and harm reduction and position itself as a world leading jurisdiction".
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