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  • Cannabis Offences and Penalties in Victoria (VIC)

    Dealing with Drugs like Cannabis or other prohibited substances can result in serious legal penalties in Victoria. The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) guides all legal and responsible usage of Drugs of dependence or other substances in Victoria.

    The Act/Victorian legislation only permits you to administer most drugs under special permission. Some of these reasons include; Medicinal, recreational, and other special purposes (as a drug inspector).

    The penalties for cannabis offences in Victoria can be huge depending on the quantity or amount the person possessed or administered at the time.

    If an individual is convicted in a Victorian court for a cannabis offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Victorian Criminal History Check certificate.

    What is Cannabis under Victorian law?

    By Schedule 11 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic); Cannabis is a drug of dependence. And this section includes any extracts, dried form, seeds, or oils from the plant.

    Under the law, a person is also guilty of possession or dealing with Cannabis if they intentionally or recklessly;

    • Allowed the dealing of the drug on a premise they occupy or manage
    • Use enjoyed or controlled the operations regarding the drugs.

    1. The offence of trafficking Cannabis (Drug of Dependence)

    It is a severe offence in Victoria to move Cannabis or any prohibited drug unless regulated by any legal entity. It is an indictable offence to traffic a drug in large or commercial quantities. It is an offence that incurs maximum punishments of;

    • ✔ Life imprisonment and/or 5000 penalty units in fine amounts
    • ✔ If the trafficking offence was for a quantity less than a large or commercial quantity, the accused person only incurs 15 years imprisonment.

    If the accused person intended to traffic the drug to a child, they are guilty of an offence that incurs;

    • ✔ 20 years imprisonment term, and/or 2400 penalty units

    If the offence was committed within a school zone, it incurs as much as 25 years maximum penalty.

    Otherwise, the standard penalties for such offenses are punishments of 16 years imprisonment.

    1. Using Violence/Threats to cause trafficking

    It is a serious offence to aid the trafficking offence with violence, threats or other fearsome weapons or agents. If the court determines a person to have used any of these threatening objects to aid a trafficking offence, it incurs a penalty of;

    • Five years imprisonment.
    • It is an offence without a defence for the accused regardless of the circumstance.

    What it means to traffick Cannabis

    Trafficking technically means the movement of large quantities of a prohibited substance, usually across a country, Territory, or vicinity. Section 70 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) defines trafficking offences to means;

    • Preparing the drug for trafficking,
    • Concluding the necessary deals and Exchanges for the sale,
    • Manufacturing the Cannabis

    The legislation also includes trafficking to means where a person gains from the deal even if not directly involved.

    Trafficable quantity

    Section 70 of the Act describes a trafficable quantity as 250 grams or ten plants supplied within Victoria.

    Large Commercial quantity

    For this section, a large commercial quantity of Cannabis is defined by Schedule 11 of the Act.

    • It is defined as 250kg of Cannabis or 1000 plants.

    1. Possession of any aid or material for trafficking Cannabis

    Section 71A of the Act describes an offence where the accused person possesses a material or aid to traffic the substance. It is an indictable offence that incurs a penalty of 10 years maximum imprisonment.

    1. Supplying Cannabis to a child

    It is an offence to knowingly and, without good reason, supply cannabis or other drugs of dependence to a child. It includes where the drug was;

    • Used by the child directly, or
    • For another person passed through the child

    It is an offence under the DPCS Act that incurs punishments of

    • 1000 penalty units
    • 15 years imprisonment

    If the person commits the offence in a public place, or an area where a child will be, they are guilty of a crime, not more than;

    • 1600 penalty units
    • 20 years imprisonment term.

    1. Possession of Tablet Press

    It is an offence to be found in possession of a tablet press. A person who without the necessary authority possesses any of such is guilty of a crime that incurs;

    • 600 penalty units
    • Five years imprisonment

    1. Possession of precursor chemical

    Under Victorian legislation, it is an indictable offence to be found in possession of a precursor chemical. There can only be legal and lawful possession of all precursors or aids used to make, extract or deal with drugs.

    • It is an offence that incurs penalties of 600 penalty units, or
    • Five years maximum imprisonment, or both depending on the severity of the action.

    1. Large/Commercial cultivation of Narcotic plant

    It is a serious offence to cultivate Cannabis or other prohibited drugs in large/commercial quantities. The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) lists it as an indictable offence in Victoria that incurs penalties of;

    • Life imprisonment
    • Up to 5000 penalty units in fines.

    If the accused possessed the drugs in commercial quantities, it is an offence that incurs;

    • Level 2 imprisonment (25 years)

    However, if the offence is handled summarily in Victoria; where the Magistrate believes the accused person does not possess such plant for trafficking or commercial supply, they will impose penalties of;

    • 20 penalty units in fine amounts
    • 1-year maximum imprisonment (level 8).

    In any aggravating case, it increases to 15 years imprisonment (level 4).

    Defence to the offence of Cultivation of prohibited plant

    Section 72C of the Act provides a lawful excuse for an accused person before the court. The Justice considers all acts balanced if the accused person can prove that they could not and did not know such a plant was a narcotic or prohibited plant under the law.

    1. Using your premises for cultivating Cannabis

    A person is culpable of a drug offence if they allow their premise or land property they manage to be used to cultivate a prohibited drug. Anyone who manages or occupies such land without lawful authority is guilty of an indictable offence that incurs;

    • Five years maximum penalty (level 6 imprisonment)

    1. Possession of Cannabis

    Section 73 of the Act faults a person who, without lawful authority, possesses Cannabis in any capacity. Such offence can be treated as an indictable or summary offence depending on the quantity of Cannabis.

    If the person possessed such drugs for personal use and proved they did not intend to traffick such, their offence incurs;

    • 30 penalty units, and/or
    • 1-year maximum imprisonment

    In any case, including matters of aggravation, it is an offence that incurs;

    • 400 penalty units, and/or
    • Five years maximum imprisonment.

    1. Administering Cannabis or other Drug of dependence to another

    It is unlawful to administer a drug of dependence or other narcotics to another person without lawful excuse. A person found guilty of such offence is liable to penalties reaching;

    • 30 penalty units,
    • 1-year maximum penalty

    1. Use of Drug of dependence

    It is a crime to without lawful authority use or attempts to use a drug of dependence. The court will issue punishments for this offence depending on the quantity of Cannabis ingested.

    If the offence was in relation to Cannabis, it is an offence incurring penalties of 5 penalty unit

    For any other case; a matter of aggravation, it incurs a penalty of

    • 30 penalty units
    • 1-year maximum imprisonment.

    1. Administering Cannabis

    Section 70(1) defines the use of Cannabis as a severe offence that includes;

    • Smoking the Cannabis plant,
    • Vaping the plants; inhaling the fumes from burning
    • Any other means of pushing Cannabis into the system.

    1. Forging prescriptions and Orders for drugs of dependence

    It is an offence to forge a prescription or other legitimate orders for a drug of dependence. A person guilty of this offence is liable to punishments of;

    • 20 penalty units
    • 1-year maximum imprisonment.

    1. The offence of Producing, Selling, supplying or advertising psychoactive substance

    It is an offence under section 56D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) for a person to deal with a psychoactive substance no matter how indirect. It includes where a person produces, sells, advertises, or deals with a psychoactive substance unlawfully.

    The maximum penalties for aiding the sale, advert and use of a psychoactive substance is;

    • Two years maximum imprisonment term
    • Fines not exceeding 240 penalty units

    1. Publication of document aiding Drug offences

    Section 71F describes an offence where a person intentionally or for any unlawful reasons publishes a material aiding trafficking or cultivation of a prohibited substance. It includes cases where the prosecution will prove that the information helped other people perpetrate the offence.

    It does not matter that the person was reckless about the act. It is an offence that incurs a penalty up to;

    • 1200 penalty units
    • Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).

    1. Possession of document containing information about drug offence

    It is illegal under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) for a person to possess a document containing or revealing information about a drug offence. Section 71E of the Act prescribes penalties for such cases where the person is liable to;

    • 600 penalty units in fines, or
    • Level 6 imprisonment (5 years), or both depending on the severity of the offence.

    What court hears Drug (Cannabis) offences in Victoria?

    Drug-related matters are usually wider in scope but can easily be differentiated to;

    • Simple cannabis offences
    • Indictable Cannabis offences

    Classifying these offences depends on the amount of substance or drug the person handles at the time. It also depends on the presence of aggravating circumstances for the crime.

    Will a Cannabis Offence in Victoria show up on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a cannabis offence in Victoria, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their national police clearance check.

    Individuals can obtain a police check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

    Source

    Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) - https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/drugs-poisons-and-controlled-substances-act-1981/128

    Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (Austlii References) - http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/dpacsa1981422/

    Judicial College of Victoria (Penalties for Victorian Drug Offences) - https://www.judicialcollege.vic.edu.au/eManuals/VCPM/44519.htm

    Legal Aid Victoria (Drug Possession) - https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/find-legal-answers/criminal-offences/drug-possession

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