We chat over zoom with ACT MLA Michael Pettersson – the key figure in parliament to first introduce legal reforms that permitted citizens to grow, cultivate and harvest cannabis at their residences in Canberra.
It was an exciting opportunity to ask Michael some questions that we’ve been quietly wondering about since the ACT passed legal cannabis back in 2019.
Progressive Drug Laws in Nation’s Capital
As a Labor backbencher, Michael has put his career on the line to champion progressive drug law reforms – he was the one to spotlight the issue (against party platform) and presented a proposal to the public.
The response was largely positive, which created new opportunities for Michael’s colleagues to appreciate the bill and what it could mean for the territory. Within no time at all, the ruling Labor party had developed legislation, with a majority in the chamber and significant public support.
Now, with cannabis plants legal to grow in the ACT (with some restrictions), Pettersson and other Labor members are tabling additional legislation to decriminalise illicit substances (such as heroin, MDMA and methamphetamine).
With all of this excitement surrounding Canberran politics and the common-sense legal reforms occurring there, it was quite fascinating speaking to the architect of that movement in parliament. Michael didn’t enter politics for the purposes of shifting drug law policy – he just saw the opportunity and stood for it. Luckily for Michael – and cannabis users across the capital territory – that political calculation paid off.
With these changes having shifted the face of our nation’s capital, we discuss with Michael where the potentials lie for future law reforms, and a gradual move away from prohibition… within the currently semi-hostile environment of Australian politics.
Thanks for coming onto the Podcast, Michael – and for fighting the good fight! We really enjoyed speaking with you and hearing your perspectives on history, politics and change.