Is weed legal in Australia? Both yes and no. Adult use remains illegal in most regions, with the exception being the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which involves Canberra. On September 25, 2019, the ACT voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Cannabis legalization has allowed citizens over the age of 18 to acquire up to 50 grams of cannabis, sprout two plants per individual or four plants per residence anywhere at a particular time, and then use marijuana in their household.
When the Narcotic Drugs Amendment was passed by the country’s parliament in 2016, medicinal cannabis became acceptable. There is no collection of qualifying conditions.
However, the Department of Health is reviewing previous cannabis research for severe pain, seizure disorders, chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, palliation, and multiple sclerosis. Interested patients should consult with their physician.
What is cannabis?
Is weed legal in Australia?
Many people have this question however let’s first delve into what Cannabis is.
Cannabis is the generic term for drugs derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, such as marijuana, hash, and hashish oil. It is the most extensively used illegal drug in Australia.
Cannabis comes in several forms, which include:
Marijuana: the most common form of cannabis, is created from the plant’s dehydrated leaves and flowers. It is commonly smoked in the form of a joint or crack pipe.
Hashish: dried plant resin, generally mixed with nicotine and smoked or found in foods like cookies or brownies.
Concentrates: cannabis extracts are typically dissolved in butane hash oil, a fluid added to the apex of a joint or cigarette.
Marijuana, pot, yarn, weed, dope, ganja, joint, hash, stick, chronic, cone, choof, mull, 420, dabs, dabbing, or BHO is all alternate names for cannabis.
It is illegal in most Australian states and territories for personal use, to acquire, inculcate, or sell cannabis. Even so, the rules regulating cannabis ownership, plantation, and use in the ACT have transformed.
Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal in every state and territory.
The mixing of cannabis and alcohol
When cannabis is combined with other drugs, such as alcohol or prescribed drugs, the implications of all of the drugs become bigger, more powerful, and much more unpredictable. When you combine cannabis and alcohol, you are much more likely to become queasy or vomit.
Medicinal cannabis is a type of medicine derived from the cannabis plant. A few health issues can be relieved by medicinal cannabis.
Cannabis contains between 80 and 100 cannabinoids. These are two of the cannabinoids:
THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and/or CBD are present in several medicinal cannabis products.
THC is also the agent that causes folks to get high. CBD has no intoxicating properties and can be used to address a wide variety of symptoms.
Global research is being conducted to investigate the advantages of some of the other cannabinoids.
Medicinal cannabis is still being studied and is progressively being used as a medication for a variety of medical conditions, such as pain treatment, vomiting and diarrhea (caused by chemotherapy), and epileptic seizure treatment.
In Australia, its supply is strictly regulated. Only a health professional can provide you with medicinal cannabis.
What is the difference between medicinal cannabis and cannabis?
Cannabis (recreational marijuana) is a drug that is illegal in the majority of states and regions. It isn’t medicine. The concentration of active ingredients in marijuana is unknown. Other impurities may also be present.
Medicinal Cannabis Legality
Legal medicinal cannabis products can only be obtained from your general practitioner, a specialist, or by participating in a clinical study. The very first stage is to consult with your doctor about medicinal cannabis. Your physician will decide:
Which medicinal marijuana product to prescribe and if medicinal cannabis will aid you?
Your physician would also need to fill out forms to acquire the required permission from the government.
Your doctor will be able to write you a prescription for the medication once you have been approved. You can use this prescription to get your medicinal cannabis product from any pharmacy.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) excludes medicinal cannabis from coverage. The weekly cost of medical cannabis can range from $50 to $1000.
This is determined by:
Your illness, the product, and the dosage.
Medicinal cannabis and its legal status in Australia
The Australian government legalized the use of medicinal cannabis products in 2016. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of Australia governs the provision of medicinal cannabis.
The majority of medical cannabis products are illegal drugs. This means they have not been subjected to the same regulatory oversight as other prescribed drugs. More information can be found on the therapeutic goods administration webpage.
To be able to use cannabis in Australia, your physician must have TGA approval to prescribe these products. This can be accomplished through the Special Access Scheme-B or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
A few medicinal cannabis products, such as nabiximols and synthetic cannabinoids, are approved for use in Australia.
Each state and territory have its own set of laws. This may impact your ability to obtain medical cannabis.
There is also synthetic cannabis, which is a new psychoactive substance composed of chemical compounds blended with solvents & added to herbs. The compounds are meant to imitate the effects of cannabis’ active substance, called THC. Not all synthetic cannabis forms mimic THC, and they are more dangerous than real cannabis.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has more information on synthetic cannabis.
Human Body and Cannabis
Cannabis acts as a central nervous system depressant, slowing brain activity and causing feelings of calm and drowsiness, along with mood-altering effects. The results are typically felt immediately after smoking or vaporizing them, but they can last for a few hours.
It has the power to make people feel “chilled out,” at ease, joyful, and socially active. Cannabis users may find themselves giggling a lot, having heightened senses, or feeling hungry. They may also experience drowsiness.
Side effects of cannabis include:
- Problems with balance
- High heart rate
- Red, dry eyes, dry mouth, and nausea.
- Memory issues
- Slower reactions and
- Paranoia or anxiety.
What could potentially happen after prolonged use of cannabis?
Individuals who have consumed a large amount of cannabis could become very ill, and their predicament may become a crisis.
Somebody who has consumed a large amount of cannabis may become ill and throw up. They may also become sleepy. They may asphyxiate if they throw up while sleeping. Do not abandon someone in this state.
Somebody who has consumed a large amount of marijuana could also have an accident. They may have psychotic episodes, panic disorder, or paranoia; stay with them and assist them to stay calm. If their symptoms worsen or they sustain a head or other severe injury, call 000.
Cannabis can precipitate a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia in folks who are already predisposed to the disorder. Using cannabis may cause these people to develop the problem sooner.
Cannabis may also cause psychotic problems in patients with a family history of mental illness. If you have a mental illness such as schizophrenia, it can exacerbate psychotic symptoms and make treatment more difficult.
Anyone who has a pre-existing mental health issue or a close relative who has depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, or anxiety should avoid cannabis, as they are at an especially high risk of drug-causing mental health problems.
Can anyone be dependent on cannabis products?
Anybody can be addicted to cannabis. That implies it consumes a lot of time and effort and is difficult to stop.
People may encounter withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, sleep disturbance, mood changes, anxiety or depression, moodiness, decreased appetite, or nausea. These issues usually peak 2 to 4 nights after resigning and should last about 2 weeks.
Cannabinoids are euphorigenic and habit-forming, with roughly 10% of recreational users developing overreliance. Sudden withdrawal effects include mild sleep as well as food disturbances, marijuana craving, and emotional lability.
Practitioners should carefully estimate the probability of drug-seeking behavior in patients who want to use medicinal marijuana products. When ditching the use of THC-containing goods, patients should be gradually weaned off them. Research during the past decade shows that CBD withdrawal doesn’t tend to be linked with any significant withdrawal syndrome.
A state-by-state guide to cannabis use in Australia
Cannabis use, supply, and possession are all illegal in New South Wales (NSW); even so, first-time violators with a tiny portion on hand may only receive a warning. Up to three cautions may be issued, and they are frequently accompanied by a consultation for drug-related information.
The NSW government acknowledges medicinal cannabis’s potential for treating crippling or terminal illnesses. Any doctor may recommend medical cannabis if it is determined to be an effective therapy and the doctor has the necessary approval.
The NSW government has set up the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation to educate people and supervise clinical trials in another sign of support for the narcotic.
The NSW government allocated more than AU$9 million to the center. They are investigating important points to help kids with epilepsy; people with cancer who require pain treatment, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction; and severe pain in spinal injury patients.
Recreational cannabis possession and use is a felony act in Victoria, but as in NSW, those nabbed with a first offense of 50 grams or less are usually given a warning and directed to attend drug counseling. It becomes more serious if extra charges are filed or if an individual is found with more than 50 grams of cannabis.
Any doctor can prescribe medical cannabis to a patient in just about any situation if they genuinely think it is clinically effective and have got permission from the Federation or state. Victoria was the very first state to legalize medical marijuana use, and the first patients were young kids suffering from epilepsy.
Growing cannabis or using it recreationally is illegal in Queensland under four distinct acts. Illegal possession, supply, production, and trafficking are subject to punishment of up to 20 years in prison under the Drugs Misuse Act of 1986, depending on the context, such as the amount of cannabis implicated.
Medical cannabis use is less looked down upon in Queensland, where any medical professional in the state can administer it if clinically indicated. In most cases, the medical professional must have acquired Commonwealth approval. Nevertheless, beginning in June 2020, any Queensland doctor can help with Schedule 4 CBD as well as Schedule 8 THC or CBD products without obtaining official permission from state health officials.
Cannabis for medicinal use can indeed be consumed in the form of vapor, capsules, sprays, or tinctures; smoking cannabis is not permitted in Queensland. Intriguingly, the marketing of medicinal marijuana is only permitted in the medical, wholesale, and pharmaceutical industries.
Driving with THC in your system is now a crime in WA, whether this is medicinal or recreational. Individual cultivation is prohibited.
Ownership of 10 grams or less of cannabis may necessitate a Cannabis Intervention Requirement notice(CIR). If the participant is over the age of 18, they can only receive one CIR; those under the age of 18 can receive two.
And over ten grams carries a penalty of up to AU$2,000, two years in prison, or even both. Penalties for ownership of more than 100 g are harsher.
Medical cannabis is available only by prescription from any physician in Western Australia who has the necessary government approval. Prescriptions are available at any pharmacy.
Cannabis, cannabis resin, and cannabis oil are all illegal in South Australia to possess, use, grow, sell, or distribute. Ownership for personal use can result in an expiation, which is a fine that does not result in a felony charge. Smuggling or selling in large quantities can result in penalties of up to AU$1 million or imprisonment for 15 years to life, or even both.
Those seeking medical marijuana goods can obtain them with a prescription from a local authorized medical practitioner.
Authorization under South Australian Controlled Substances legislation is also frequently required, with exceptions for the elderly and terminally ill patients.
In Tasmania, procuring medical cannabis is undoubtedly the most difficult. If conventional medicine has failed, a patient’s medical professional must refer them to a pertinent specialist, who can then offer cannabis for medicinal use in narrow cases.
Tasmania is attempting to take steps to increase the availability of medicinal cannabis. Beginning July 1, 2021, medical doctors will be able to fill prescriptions.
Possession of cannabis is a criminal offense in Tasmania, as is the use of any utensil or appliance for the preparation, smoking, or inhalation of cannabis, with a maximum fine of AU$7,950. Trafficking 25 g of oil or 1 kg of plant matter carries a maximum prison sentence of up to 21 years imprisonment.
In the Northern Territory (NT), recreational marijuana is largely decriminalized, but possession of a small number of cannabis plants in a public area still carries a prison sentence.
A fine is only applicable to ownership of less than 50 g in your residence. Sometimes, tiny quantities of less than five plants carry a punishment of 200 penalty units or two years behind bars. A commercial quantity of much more than 20 plants, as well as “cultivation in front of a child,” results in life in prison.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed legislation in September 2019 to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use starting January 31, 2020, if the proprietor is 18 years of age or older. The state and local laws of the ACT dispute federal laws, which continue to preclude the recreational use of marijuana.
Over-18s in the ACT can carry up to 50 grams of dry cannabis or 150 grams of wet cannabis and grow a maximum of two plants per person, though the 50-gram limit is less than what one plant produces. Surpassing limits results in a fine rather than criminal charges. Plants must also be cultivated outside only, making them vulnerable to theft.
Medicinal cannabis is accessible on a specific-instance basis for patients suffering from a variety of conditions. To write prescriptions, doctors must first gain permission from the ACT chief health officer as well as the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Possession of illegal drugs
Among the most prevalent drug offenses is possession. Possession means getting a narcotic on you or in your home or property. This would include any cannabis growing on the premises. If cannabis or any other illegal drugs are discovered in a car you own or drive, you may be charged with possession.
If you are apprehended with a small amount of cannabis or heroin for the first time, you will usually receive a warning (caution) rather than be accused of the offense. This decision is made by the police informant. You will be asked to agree to attend drug counseling and to join a drug treatment center. If you do not comply as consented, you may be compensated later.
For the police to prove a possession charge at trial, you must have recognized the drug was present and intended to possess it.
This option is available for any offense other than murder, manslaughter, or treason. It is frequently used by the police for first-time offenders.
To be eligible for a warning, a perpetrator must meet all of the following criteria:
• The offender’s identity must be verified
• There must be adequate permitted evidence to prove the offense
• The perpetrator must confess the offense
• The perpetrator, and in the case of a child offender, the parent/guardian, must comply with the caution
• The caution must be reasonable under the circumstances
• A caregiver must be present at the moment of giving the caution
If you are charged with cannabis possession, the magistrate may also place you on an undertaking to start behaving well for a specified period.
If you have been charged with owning other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, or ecstasy, you could face a fine of up to 30 penalty units. You could also face up to a year in prison.
You may have to persuade the jury that you did not obtain the drug with the intent to sell it, especially if you were caught with a large amount of the drug.
If you are charged with having a large amount of an illegal drug, you may have to convince the court that you did not obtain the drug in terms of selling (trafficking) the drug.
Cultivation of cannabis plants
Cultivation is the illegal practice of growing narcotic plants. These are marijuana, opium, or cocoa seedlings. The maximum sentence is determined by whether you are also found guilty of trafficking. These are criminal offenses.
Use of cannabis
If the police charge you with cannabis possession, they may also charge you with cannabis use. Smoking, inhaling fumes, injecting, or swallowing an illegal drug are all examples of use. If the officers observe you using or attempting to use cannabis, they may charge you. They could also charge you if they don’t see you using it but you tell them you did.
Possession of more than 50 grams but less than 250 grams is still illegal. It is much more severe to have more than 50 grams, but this is not always deemed a trafficable quantity.
If you are accused of owning over 250 grams of cannabis or even more, the authorities may charge you with cannabis trafficking. Seek legal advice if you’ve been charged with cannabis trafficking.
Initiatives taken by the police powers
Cannabis Cautioning Program: Victoria
The Cannabis Cautioning scheme is indeed a police drug diversion program that includes issuing a cautioning notice to perpetrators between the age groups of 17 and 25 for cannabis possession and cannabis use offenses. The perpetrator should only have a small (non-trafficking) amount of cannabis in his or her possession and confess to the crime.
The offender must agree to the warning and not have any previous criminal record at the time of his arrest by the authorities. An individual can only have two drug-related reprimands.
Police officers like the Cannabis Cautioning program because it is a quick way to deal with cannabis offenders. Victoria Police provides effective members with schooling, training, and funds to help them implement this scheme.
Drug Diversion Program
The Drug Diversion program provides for the issuing of police cautioning notice to perpetrators aged ten and up for use or ownership of illicit drugs apart from cannabis.
The caution includes the requirement that the perpetrator completes a clinical drug assessment as well as a session of any prescribed treatment programs.
The program is intended for low-level or first-time offenders, and a person can only receive two cautions. To be qualified for this program, the perpetrator must confess to the crime and not be engaged in any other criminal activity at the time of the arrest. Previous offenses for any infraction do not disqualify a person from participating in this program.
This program allows authorities to introduce illicit drug consumers to appropriate health care. An arrest by officers can catalyze addressing illicit drug use. Providing an opportunity for drug education, evaluation, and therapeutic interventions at such a critical juncture capitalizes on any acceleration to change behavior.
When police detain and charge an individual with an offense and the individual has an existing illicit drug issue, the police can refer the individual to the CREDIT program in instances where bail is awarded.
A drug clinician premised at the Magistrates’ Court conducts a drug evaluation, and the Magistrate refers the offender to a suggested treatment regime as a condition of bail. The Community Offenders Advice and Treatment Service (COATS) arranges a timely meeting with the drug treatment service(s) and purchases the treatment.
The CREDIT initiative does not specifically target age groups or phases of illicit drug use, and it is accessible to both first-time offenders and those with a charge of prior and/or illicit drug use. To be qualified for the CREDIT program, a perpetrator must presently have an illicit drug issue, be qualified for bail (i.e., do not pose a risk to themselves or the community), or not be susceptible to any other judicial order with a drug rehabilitation component.
A person may be referred to or take part in the CREDIT program an unlimited number of times, and a plea agreement is not required.
Involvement in the CREDIT program may well be considered at the time of sentencing, swaying a magistrate to sentence at the lower end of the scale.
Marijuana is not constitutional in the ACT, but it is no longer illegal. The ACT has excluded punishments for adults who acquire or even use small amounts of marijuana, allowing them to seek help without fear of prosecution.
New rules governing personal cannabis use went into effect on January 31, 2020.