Weed Down Under: Is it Legal in Australia?


Is marijuana legal in Australia?

RELATED: Australian Family Seeks Amnesty for Medical Marijuana

Federally speaking, no, weed is not legal in Australia. Australia classifies marijuana as a Schedule 9 Prohibited Substance. According to he Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons,

Schedule 9 (S9) drugs and poisons are substances and preparations that, by law, may only be used for research purposes. The sale, distribution, use, and manufacture of such substances without a permit is strictly prohibited by law. Permits for research uses on humans must be approved by a recognized ethics committee on human research.

Australia’s Schedule 9 is the equivalent to America’s Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning drugs under these schedules are most dangerous, have no medical use, and are most restricted according to the powers that be. For comparison’s sake, Cocaine, Amphetamine, Fentanyl, and Methadone all reside on a less restrictive schedule in both Australia and the United States.

However, just as in the United States, Australia’s state laws regarding cannabis vary greatly as do penalty and punishment for use and possession.

Let’s dig in…

The Australian states that have decriminalized weed include: South Australia (SA), Northern Territory (NT), and the ACT (Australian Capital Territory).

South Australia: Blazed the trail for decriminalization back in 1987, residents found with up to 100 grams of marijuana, 20 grams of hash, 1 non-hydroponic plant or Cannabis smoking equipment leads to a $50 – $150 fine payable within 60 days.

Northern Territory: Second in line to decriminalize weed in 1996, under Northern Territory law, adults with up to 50 grams of marijuana, one gram of hash oil, 10 grams of hash or cannabis seed, or two non-hydroponic plants face a $200 fine with 28 days to pay rather than face criminal charge.

Australian Capital Territory: Instituted a civil penalty system in 1993 for small amounts of marijuana. 25 grams or two non-hydroponic plants nets a fine of $100 to he paid in 60 days in lieu of a criminal charge. Offenders can also choose to enroll in a treatment program to avoid the fine.

Here is where it gets confusing.

The states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), Tasmania (TAS), and Queensland (QLD) all treat the use and possession of marijuana as a criminal offense. However, it is unlikely that a first-time offender or possessor of a small amount gets convicted.

New South Wales: One of the tougher states on drug use, possession up to 15 grams of cannabis may receive a caution from the police. 2 caution limit at police discretion before charges brought on.

Victoria: Person with up to 50 grams of weed can be charged, but likely cautioned and referred to diversion program.

Tasmania: Person in possession up to 50 grams can be cautioned three times in ten years.  Each subsequent offense comes with a different level of intervention and diversion.

Queensland: Is the only state that must offer diversion to minor offender, up to 50 grams, with a 1 time only diversion offer. After a diversion or beyond 50 grams can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

The remaining state of  is the toughest on drug use. A person with up to 10 grams must attend a one-on-one counseling session. A person caught with more than 10 grams of cannabis will face two years jail or a $2,000 fine, or both.

Australia has come a long way on its journey of decriminalization of weed, although the ultimate goal is still a ways off. If a person is not trafficking large quantities of weed, and remain polite and respectful to police, odds are he/she will get off with a small fine or perhaps a diversion class.


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