Police Minister Rob Johnson said the tough new anti-cannabis laws were part of the Liberal-National Government’s fight against illegal drugs in society.
Mr Johnson said the changes repealed Labor’s Cannabis Control Act, which allowed large amount of cannabis to be grown, carried or used without any significant penalty.
“The heady days of growing, rolling and smoking your own that was allowed under the previous Labor government are over,” he said.
“We must never forget the devastating effects that drugs have on users, as well as their families and friends.”
Users found with 100 grams or more will be deemed to be selling or supplying the drug and could face a maximum fine of $20,000 or up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
If a person is found in possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis, or is found in possession of a smoking implement containing traces of cannabis, they will receive a Cannabis Intervention Requirement (CIR) notice to attend a mandatory counselling session.
“This system will replace Labor’s failed Cannabis Infringement Notice scheme, which saw 95 per cent of people who were caught with cannabis thumb their nose at the law and not bother to attend the education group sessions,” the Minister said.
“Under the new scheme, anyone caught will have no option but to attend a one-on-one intensive Cannabis Intervention Session within 28 days of the offence or face prosecution through the courts.
“Juveniles will only be eligible for two notices and adults for one. They will be prosecuted for any subsequent offences.”
A recent evaluation of the Drug Diversion Program in Queensland, which is similar to the CIR scheme, revealed that requiring minor cannabis offenders to attend a single intervention session significantly reduced cannabis use.
Cannabis offenders who attended a session in Queensland were also shown to have reduced their use of alcohol and tobacco as well as other risk-taking behaviours such as drug driving.
In Queensland, more than 80 per cent of cannabis offenders complied with the requirement and attended the session.
The new laws will also:
• result in subsequent offences for possession being prosecuted as criminal offences
• prosecute people for cultivating cannabis plants. Under the previous Labor government’s regime, people could grow two cannabis plants per person, per household without facing criminal charges
• increase fines for the sale of smoking implements. Companies can be fined up to $50,000 for selling to adults and $120,000 for selling to children.
Mr Johnson said while the Government believed a tougher approach against drugs was necessary, it also recognised the serious impact a criminal record had on a person’s future employment prospects.
“Currently, once a conviction is recorded, it remains on a person’s criminal record for at least 10 years,” he said.
“Under the new laws, a person convicted of minor cannabis possession offences will be able to apply to have a conviction spent after three years, provided they are not convicted of further offences during that period.
“This will ensure minor drug offenders, who are committed towards turning their lives around by rehabilitating themselves, are given a second chance.”
This provision will only apply to convictions that happen on or after August 1, 2011.
The Minister said he would be announcing further drug reforms in the coming weeks.
Minister's office - 9222 9211