Pubdate: Tue 7 July, 1998
Source: Age, The (Australia)


South Australia

South Australia decriminalised low-level marijuana use in 1987, putting in
place the most relaxed drug laws in the country. The cultivation and
possession of small amounts of cannabis, up to 100 grams, attracts
on-the-spot fines ranging from $50 to $150 - an offence similar to a
parking ticket. There is no conviction and the matter does not go to court.
The same on-the-spot-fine system applies to small-scale cultivation, with
up to 10 backyard plants attracting the maximum $150 fine. AEFor amounts
greater than 100 grams or more than 10 plants, normal prosecutions apply.

New South Wales

It remains illegal to cultivate, possess and/or sell cannabis. There is no
provision for police to caution or warn first-time offenders, and there is
no system of on-the-spot fines for cannabis-related crimes. Offenders must
face court, where fines and prison terms are common, although magistrates
can release offenders without conviction.


The laws in this state are in line with those in New South Wales.


Cabinet approval is imminent on proposals to reduce to a formal written
caution the first time possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana for
personal use. Under the changes, infringement notices would be issued, but
charges would not be laid and people would not have drug offences recorded
against their names.The shift is modelled on Victorian police policy and
will be trailed for 12 months.


The personal use of cannabis was decriminalised here in 1992. Now anyone
found with less than 25 grams of cannabis or fewer than five cannabis
plants generally faces a spot fine of up to $100 with no conviction
recorded. However the law also gives police the discretion to lay a
criminal charge.

Western Australia

The conservative Government has refused to bow to calls for minor cannabis
use to be decriminalised. Under the WA criminal code, a person caught in
possession of any quantity of an illegal drug is required to appear before
a magistrate. Most minor offenders walk away with a small fine. Police can
use their discretion on whether to charge first-time cannabis offenders,
but this remains a grey area.

Northern Territory

While the Northern Territory has Australia's most draconian laws in regard
to stealing and property offences, its marijuana laws are considered to be
among the most liberal. The Chief Minister, Mr Shane Stone, introduced
on-the-spot fines for possession of small amounts of cannabis - less than
50 grams - which were for personal use.

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