FACEBOOK users on a North Queensland based page have ridiculed a drug bust by Mackay Police, after a photo of about $50 worth cannabis was put up on their blog.
As one user of the Mackay based crime page sarcastically posted: “Good job. You got a stick off the streets…Street value $30k saved over 100 lives.”
And another user posted: “It’s only weed no big deal try and get the harder drugs off the streets.”
The sentiment that users of cannabis should not face court action and a criminal record has led to law reform in at least one Australian jurisdiction.
For example, the Australian Capital Territory has taken significant steps to reform the laws which govern possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Under ACT law the maximum penalty for possession of less than 50 grams of cannabis is a fine of about $210.
Residents are also allowed to grow two cannabis plants – although this can’t be done using hydroponics.
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Indeed, residents whose cannabis is seized by police can even apply to have it given back – if they’re not charged with a criminal offence and get compensation from the government if it’s destroyed. The reforms have been lauded by many as worthwhile and progressive, including Dr David Caldicott, an emergency physician and senior lecturer at the Australian National University’s College of Health and Medicine who told the ABC in March this year: “The rest of the states are being dullards and laggards as far as introducing drug law reform is concerned.”
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“There are people, of course, who think that throwing the book legally at young people who have been found in possession of drugs in some way will change the equation, but globally we know that’s a complete toss — there’s absolutely no evidence for that whatsoever.”
In contrast in Queensland possessing cannabis is illegal and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Strategic Lawyers act for clients anywhere in North Queensland get in touch here.
However, while there may be some validity to the argument for law reform in this space, Strategic Lawyers’ key criminal solicitor Anthony Sturgeon pointed out people on Facebook may have been missing an important detail.
“You do see a lot of small-time cannabis possession charges before the courts and there are questions about the use of the court’s time and police resources in cases of that nature,” Mr Sturgeon said.
“However, in the case in question police are alleging those accused also had harder drugs.
“And they have charged those involved with offences such as supplying methylamphetamines and possessing a category R weapon.”
“We are strong believers in drug law reform, and in excellent defences for our clients charged with such offences”.