Cannabis use, cultivation and possession are illegal all over Australia, but the penalties vary greatly from state to state.
Both New South Wales and Victoria are moving toward clinical trials for medical use of cannabis. On the Federal level the Greens are pushing a private members bill to allow cannabis to be used to treat a range of ailments. But what do the current laws says about use and possession of marijuana?
Here is a look at laws on cannabis use in each state and territory, followed by a glossary of related terms.
Some states offer diversion programs despite cannabis being a criminal offence, but these programs are only available to non-violent offenders.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Any cannabis offence is considered a criminal offence in NSW, which is one of the toughest states on drug use.
Offenders caught with up to 15 grams of cannabis may be cautioned by police, who will also give them information about the harms associated with it and a number to call for more advice.
The offender can be cautioned twice before charges are laid.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
The ACT has decriminalised minor cannabis offences, but the drug is still considered illegal.
A civil penalty system for the possession of 'small amounts' of cannabis was introduced in 1993.
Offenders caught with up to two non-hydroponic cannabis plants, or up to 25 grams of marijuana are fined $100 fine and given 60 days to pay. Criminal charges are not laid, and offenders can choose to attend a treatment program instead of paying the fine.
South Australia decriminalised minor cannabis offences in 1987 and was the first state to do so.
Residents found with up to 100 grams of marijuana, 20 grams of hash (resin), one non-hydroponic plant or cannabis smoking equipment lare fined $50 to $150 and given 60 days to pay.
Cannabis is illegal and criminal in Victoria, but drug offences there are tried in a different court.
As in the other non-decriminalised states, it's up to the arresting police officer to decide whether to charge the drug user, or refer them to a 'diversion' program aimed at informing and aiding them.
Anyone carrying less than 50g of cannabis in Victoria can be directed to an education program, but - as in NSW - that option is only available to each offender twice before charges are laid.
Under Tasmanian law, offenders found with up to 50 grams of cannabis can be cautioned three times in ten years, with different procedures at the time of each caution.
Information and referral is provided on the first caution and an intervention is implemented with the second.
On the third and final caution, the offender is assessed for dependence and sent for intervention or treatment.
Under Northern Territory law, adults found in possession of:
- up to 50 grams of marijuana
- one gram of hash oil
- 10 grams of hash or cannabis seed
- or two non-hydroponic plants
are likely to be fined $200 and given 28 days to pay their fine. If they do this, they are not likely to face a criminal charge.
Alongside NSW, WA has the nation's toughest stance on drug offences.
In 2004 it introduced civil penalties for cannabis possession but this was overturned with a change of government in 2008.
Since reforms in August 2011, offenders who have no prior cannabis offences but are caught with no more than 10 grams of harvested cannabis and/or a used smoking implement must attend a Cannabis Intervention Session within 28 days or receive a conviction.
All cannabis cultivation (planting, watering or tending to even one marijuana plant) offences attract a criminal conviction.
Even though possession and use of cannabis is a criminal offence in Queensland, offenders caught with up to 50 grams of cannabis must be first offered a drug diversion program. This includes a mandatory assessment and brief intervention session. Police must offer this but only one offer of diversion is allowed per person.