Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Compulsory cannabis education

March 26, 2007 - WA Attorney-General, Jim McGinty, says he wants people caught with small amounts of cannabis to be forced to attend an education session about the drug.

In 2003, the WA Government introduced new laws allowing people caught with up to 30 grams of marijuana or two cannabis plants to avoid criminal penalties and instead pay a fine or attend an education session. The State Opposition says the laws have failed to deter people from using the drug and has called on the Government to scrap them.

Mr McGinty says he will not consider introducing criminal penalties for the offences and wants more focus on education. "At the moment, it's an option - you can either accept a fine or a suspension of your licence, or an education session," he said. "I think we should be putting far more emphasis on educating young people as to the dangers of the drugs."

He says reinstating criminal penalties would be counterproductive. "I don't see any public benefit of giving a young person, who is experimenting with cannabis and gets caught, a criminal record for the rest of their life to compromise their ability to get a job, their ability to travel," he said. "What we must do is to make young people aware of the dangers of cannabis."

The state's cannabis laws will be reviewed this year.

But Opposition Leader Paul Omodei says the Government is reviewing the legislation but without public involvement. Under the laws, people caught in possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or two cannabis plants are fined.

But the Opposition says that since the laws came into effect three years ago, only half the nearly 10,000 infringements issued have been paid. Mr Omodei says there is strong community opposition to Labor's "soft" stance and if the current review included community input, the public would urge the Government to scrap the laws.


CANNABIS CONTROL ACT 2003: There are New Laws on Cannabis: in Western Australia.

It is against the law to cultivate, possess, use, sell or supply cannabis. It is also against the law to possess pipes and other implements on which there are detectable traces of cannabis.

While the possession of small amounts of cannabis is still an offence it can now be dealt with by issuing a Cannabis Infringement Notice (CIN). If a person receives a CIN and pays the financial penalty or attends a Cannabis Education Session (CES), the person will not be required to appear in court and will not incur a criminal record.

The Cannabis Infringement Notice (CIN) Scheme enables police, at their discretion, to issue an infringement notice for possession of small amounts of cannabis. People who receive a CIN will be required to pay a financial penalty within 28 days, complete a Cannabis Education Session within 28 days or can choose to have the matter heard in court. There is a limit to the number of times within a three-year period that a person who is issued with a CIN may choose to pay a financial penalty rather than complete a CES or go to court. A person who is issued with one or more CINs on each of three separate days within a three-year period will be required on the third and any subsequent occasion to attend a Cannabis Education Session or go to court, and will not be eligible to pay a financial penalty.

If police have relevant evidence, a person found in possession of a small amount
of cannabis could still be charged with the more serious offence of possession of cannabis with intent to sell or supply.

The CIN Scheme does not apply to possession by an adult of any quantities of cannabis resin (hash), hash oil, or other cannabis derivatives. The possession of any quantity of these substances will continue to be prosecuted through the courts.

No. Under the Young Offenders Act 1994, young people (aged 10 to 17 years
inclusively) who are found growing, in possession of, or using cannabis within the limits set by the CIN scheme may be cautioned or referred to a Juvenile Justice Team.

A CIN can be issued in the following instances:
• possession by an adult of no more than 15 grams of cannabis - (penalty $100);
• possession by an adult of more than 15 grams and no more than 30 grams of cannabis - (penalty $150);
• possession by an adult of no more than two cannabis plants under cultivation at that person’s principal place of residence provided that the plants are not
hydroponically grown and that no other person is growing other cannabis plants
on the same premises - (penalty $200); and
• possession by an adult of pipes and other implements for use in smoking
cannabis on which there are detectable traces of cannabis - (penalty $100). Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 police have the power to seize and destroy
cannabis, cannabis plants and/or pipes or other implements (with detectable traces of cannabis) when a CIN is issued.

Then options are:
• pay the Cannabis Infringement Notice financial penalty within 28 days of the
CIN being issued; or
• complete a Cannabis Education Session (CES) within 28 days of the CIN being issued; or
• apply in writing to have the matter heard and determined in court.

Note: A person has 28-days to complete a CES or pay the financial penalty unless
an extension is provided by an authorised person.

If the 28-day period has expired and you have not paid the financial penalty or
completed a CES or elected to have the matter heard and determined in court, then a final demand for payment may be served on you. Once a final demand has been issued you will no longer be eligible to attend a CES for the CIN and you will be required to pay the financial penalty as well as additional administration costs.

Drug Aware Youth Website


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