Take Australia, for example. Australian cannabis laws are not the most lax in the world, but are in many instances geared towards rehabilitation.

When it comes to Australian cannabis laws, it is against the law to use, own, or manufacture/sell marijuana or relevant products. The penalties for violating pertinent laws can vary depending on the territory or state. For some states, a person charged with a possession (personal use) amount of cannabis, as opposed to an amount indicating intent to distribute, can expect a $50 fine. In other states, the same person can face criminal offenses resulting in considerably larger fines or even jail time. Further compounding the differences in liability depending on location, the definition of personal use amount changes depending on jurisdiction.

The Australian Drug Misuse & Trafficking Act, originally developed in 1985, was amended in 2006 to combat increasing rates of hydroponic marijuana cultivation. This process of growing cannabis in nutrient rich solutions is in some ways advantageous to more traditional methods, necessitating further action. With the advent of this amendment, the degree of cultivated cannabis required for status as a commercial quantity was reduced.

Australian Territories With Decriminalized Cannabis Laws

Listed here are states and territories with weed laws which have decriminalized minor cannabis offenses:

Territory Cannabis Laws
Australian Capital Territory In 1993, the Australian Capital Territory adopted a civil penalty system dictating how to handle minor possession of cannabis. If someone is found to possess a maximum of two non-hydroponic cannabis plants, or no more than 25 grams of marijuana (cannabis plant matter), they can expect a $100 fine to be paid within 60 days in lieu of any criminal charges. If the subject prefers, they can participate in a drug treatment program.
South Australia In 1987, South Australia became the first state the decriminalise minor cannabis charges, making this district a pioneer in modern weed laws for the country. Anyone found to be in possession of a maximum of 100 grams, 20 grams of cannabis resin (hash), one non-hydroponic plant, or any paraphernalia for consuming cannabis results in a $50 to $150 fine, subject to be paid within 60 days.
Northern Territory From 1996 onward, adults caught possessing up to 50 grams of cannabis, a gram of hash oil, 10 grams of hash or cannabis seeds, or two non-hydroponic plants may be fined $200. The fine must be paid before 28 days have passed.

Decriminalisation versus Legalisation: What’s the Difference?

Pot laws enable authorities to have some leeway in how to prosecute cannabis offenders. Some legal authorities have taken steps to decriminalise minor cannabis charges, including personal-use possession. The term decriminalisation refers to an offense which can be handled with civil penalties like a fine, instead of criminal charges. This mean that minor possession of cannabis is regulated similarly to speeding, another common civil infraction.

Understand that this manner of offense is still illegal. Legalisation is a different process altogether. In such an instance, cannabis would no longer be considered an illicit drug, but would instead be perceived legally as tobacco or alcohol.

Medical Cannabis Laws Australia

From 2014 to 2016, Australian laws revolving around medical cannabis began changing. Starting in April of 2015, government entities in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria drafted resolutions to engage in medical trials for cannabis. These trials were to start in 2016 or 2017.

In February 2016, the Narcotics Drug Act of 1967 was amended to allow for the establishment of licensed cannabis cultivation. While this amendment didn’t actually permit consumption of medical cannabis, it did solve the problem of how cannabis would be supplied. This was a step forward, as earlier attempts to legislate the matter had not made as much progress.

Two months later in April, Victoria passed the Access to Medical Cannabis Bill, providing a list of edicts for manufacturing, supplying, and accessing medical cannabis and salient products within Victoria. In July of 2016, the federal government allotted New South Wales a license to grow medical cannabis, the first of this breed of pot laws in Australia.

The month after this landmark decision, in conjunction with an amendment to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment Regulation Act of 2016, the NSW government began allowing medical professionals to petition for permission to prescribe cannabis-derived products not listed on the Register of Therapeutic Goods to their patients. The amendment in question caused some confusion; the system for approval was difficult to decipher, and the supply of cannabis plants was non-existent.


What About Other Aussie Territories Weed Laws?

When it comes to marijuana laws in the regions not already discussed, cannabis charges are automatically handled as criminal offenses. If a subject is charged and found guilty in Australia outside of the aforementioned regions, they will be facing significant fines, jail time, and the development of, or an addition to their criminal record.

It would be unlikely for a defendant caught with a minor amount of marijuana to be issued a criminal conviction if they’re a first-time offender. This is due to the diversion programs which exist in these states. Diversion programs seek to impede non-violent criminals who’ve violated drug-related statutes from becoming statistics in the criminal justice system. Instead these programs aim to funnel such offenders into treatment programs which educate about and treat conditions such as drug addiction. It is thought that such programs have considerable ability to halt the cycle of criminality linked to illegal drug use by highlighting the root causes behind illicit activity and managing drug problems as soon as possible.

Bear in mind that police officers involved in given cases of drug offenses have authority to decide whether or not to formally charge offenders or direct them to treatment programs (diversion). In addition, juveniles under the age of 18 and habitual drug offenders/violent offenders are not eligible for diversion. Instead, juveniles are eligible for treatment under state laws like NSW’s 1997 Young Offenders Act, an article of legislation designed to guide juvenile offenders away from the criminal justice system whenever possible.


Cannabis Laws

New South Wales

In New South Wales, offender found to be in possession of no more than 15 grams may be issued a warning from police officers. These warnings will contain information about the dangers of cannabis use and information about drug-related treatment. A maximum of two warnings can be issued to one individual.


In Victoria, a police officer has the right to issue warnings and offer an opportunity to sit in at cannabis education programs, assuming the offender was caught with a maximum of 50 grams of cannabis. Just like in NSW, a maximum of two warnings can be issued to one individual.


In Tasmania, someone caught with up to 50 grams of marijuana can be issued a warning up to three times within a ten year period. The first time a warning is given, information about cannabis use is provided. A minor intervention accompanies the second warning. With the third and last warning, the offender has no choice but to be assessed for dependence on drugs, and must attend some intervention of drug treatment program.


In Queensland, officers can offer diversion to offenders found to be in possession of up to 50 grams. In this region, minor offenders must be offered diversion containing a drug assessment and a quick intervention. Queensland only allows one offer of diversion for every offender.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, marijuana laws are presided over by a civil penalty plan for possession of marijuana. This plan was adopted in 2004. In 2008, this program was overturned. Starting in August of 2011, those caught with 10 grams or less of cannabis and/or any paraphernalia with no prior cannabis offenses have been forced to attend CIS, a cannabis intervention session no more than 28 days after being charged if they wish to avoid a cannabis conviction. Those who’ve been caught cultivating cannabis automatically face criminal conviction.
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