It is an offence to possess cannabis (marijuana) in Australia for your personal use. The severity of that offence depends upon where you commit the crime and the law under which you are charged. This article will give you an overview of Australian laws governing the possession of marijuana for personal use. The possession of more than a personal use quantity is usually treated as a trafficking offence rather than a possession offence.
The possession of marijuana is prohibited by federal law. Possession for personal use is punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 years. For the most part, however, federal drug enforcement targets import and export offences and crimes that cross jurisdictional lines. Simple possession offences are almost always prosecuted under the laws of the states and territories.
The police in the ACT are authorized (but not required) to issue a cannabis offence notice to an offender who possesses marijuana for personal use, provided the amount does not exceed 50 grams. A cannabis offence notice is also issued for most cases of possession of 1 or 2 cannabis plants that were not grown in artificial light.
If the police issue a cannabis offence notice, the accused can avoid a criminal conviction by paying a fine within 60 days. If the police charge the offence as a crime or if larger amounts are possessed for personal use, the court can impose a sentence of up to 2 years upon conviction.
A first offence of personal use possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana usually results in a caution in Victoria. The caution is accompanied by a direction to attend drug counseling at a treatment center. You can be charged with a possession offence if you do not comply with that direction. The maximum penalty is a fine.
Subsequent offences or possession for personal use of more than 50 grams will usually be charged as an offence. The typical penalty would be a fine, although the law authorizes the court to impose a maximum sentence of one year.
Although possession of cannabis can be charged as a crime in New South Wales, the government’s policy is to permit the police to issue a caution rather than a criminal charge in certain cases. The police have discretion to issue a caution when:
An offender can usually avoid prosecution for a second offence by attending drug counseling. A third offence is charged as a crime. A possession charge carries a maximum sentence of 2 years, although personal use possession is more likely to result in an alternative to incarceration.
Queensland has established a drug diversion program for certain drug offences, including the personal use possession of a small amount of marijuana. Offenders are eligible for the Police Diversion Program if they possess 50 grams or less of marijuana for personal use.
The police will generally offer eligible offenders the opportunity to participate in a Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP). The assessment can usually be completed in a single two hour session. The assessment includes an educational component. Individuals who agree but fail to attend can be fined. Individuals who complete the assessment will not be charged with an offence.
In all other cases, possession for personal use is generally treated as a summary offence punishable by a maximum sentence of 3 years.
The police in Western Australia have discretion to issue a Cannabis Intervention Requirement (CIR) to a person over the age of 14 who possesses 10 grams of less of marijuana for personal use. A CIR is only available to a first offender. An offender who receives a CIR has 28 days in which to complete a single Cannabis Intervention Session with a drug counselor. If that requirement is satisfied, no crime will be charged.
In all other cases of possession of marijuana for personal use, the offender must appear in court. A maximum sentence of 2 years is authorized for the offence.
The maximum penalty for the offence of possessing marijuana for personal use in South Australia is a $500 fine.
This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers