Drug Offences

Cannabis Offences

Simple Cannabis Offences

Section 45A(8) of the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) provides for the expiation (on the spot fine) of simple cannabis offences. These offences include allegations of:

  • Non-artificially enhanced cultivation of one cannabis plant;

  • Possession of 100 grams or less of cannabis, 20 grams or less of cannabis resin;

  • Smoking or consumption of cannabis (except in a public place or a place prescribed by regulation);

  • Possession of equipment such as pipes for use in smoking or consumption.

A cannabis expiation notice can either be directly served at the time of a simple cannabis offence or issued by post. You have 28 days from (and including) the date of issue of the expiation notice to pay the expiation fee. A simple cannabis offence is expiated upon payment of the fee, making the offender no longer liable for prosecution for that offence. There is no court appearance and no conviction recorded.

Paying the expiation fee for a simple cannabis offence is not an admission of guilty or civil liability and it cannot be considered as such. The expiation of a simple cannabis offence cannot be referred to in any future reports assisting a court to determine sentence for any other offence. Any item(s) seized in connection with the alleged offence is forfeited to the Crown upon expiation of the offence.

Expiation Notice Fees

  • Cultivation of one cannabis plant: $400

  • Possession of cannabis

    • Less than 25 grams: $250

    • 25 grams or more but less than 100 grams: $400

  • Possession of cannabis resin

    • Less than 5 grams: $250

    • 5 grams or more but less than 20 grams: $400

  • Cannabis use

    • Smoking or consuming cannabis, cannabis resin (other than an offence committed in a public or prescribed place): $250

  • Possession of equipment

    • Possession of equipment (one or more pieces) for smoking or consuming, or for preparation of cannabis or cannabis resin for smoking or consuming (not being an offence involving possession of such equipment for a commercial purpose): $250

    • Where possession of equipment (as above) is accompanied by another simple cannabis offence relating to the possession, smoking or consumption of cannabis or cannabis resin: $130

 

Prosecution of Simple Cannabis Offences

If you elect to be prosecuted for the offence, you will be summonsed to appear in court.

If you are alleged to have consumed cannabis in a public or prescribed place, you will also be summonsed to appear in court. A public or prescribed place includes a motor vehicle, train, tram, or any other vehicle whist located in a public place. Public place is widely defined and would include, for example, consumption inside a private vehicle parked in a hotel carpark.

Cultivation of Cannabis

The offence of cultivating cannabis can be committed in the following ways:

  • Cultivating one or more cannabis plants by artificially enhanced cultivation

  • Cultivating more than five cannabis plants

  • Cultivating one or more cannabis plants with the intention of supplying that plant or administering any product of that plant to another person.

Maximum Penalty

The maximum penalty for a cultivation offence will vary depending on the number of plants you have.

Large commercial quantity: 100 plants

Commercial quantity: 20 plants

Trafficable quantity: 10 plants

The maximum penalty for cultivating more than 5 plants is a fine of $2,000 or 2-years imprisonment or both.

The maximum penalty for cultivating more than 1 plant but less than 5 plants, is a fine of $1,000 or 6-months imprisonment, or both.

The maximum penalty for cultivating a trafficable quantity of cannabis is a fine of $75,000 or 15-years imprisonment, or both.

The maximum penalty for cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis is a fine of $500,000 or imprisonment for life, or both. 

The maximum penalty for cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis is a fine of $500,000 or imprisonment for life, or both.
The cultivation of not more than 1 plant constitutes a simple cannabis offence under this section. For simple cannabis offences the police have discretion to issue a cannabis expiation notice. This means payment of an on the spot fine and avoids court proceedings. Cannabis grown hydroponically is not included in the Cannabis Expiation Notice Scheme.

Trafficking in Controlled Drugs

Trafficking in controlled drugs includes selling a drug, having possession of the drug intending to sell it or taking part in the process of sale of the drug.

Maximum penalties vary in accordance with the quantity of drug found in the possession of the person and whether the person is found to be in possession of a large commercial quantity or commercial quantity.

Quantity Deemed to be for the Purpose of Sale or Supply

Where it is proved the defendant had possession of a trafficable quantity of a controlled drug and it is alleged the defendant was taking part in the process of sale, it is presumed (in the absence of proof to the contrary) that the defendant was acting for the purpose of sale and had the relevant belief concerning the sale of the drug.

In any other case, where the defendant had possession of a trafficable quantity of a controlled drug (in the absence of proof to the contrary) the defendant is deemed to have the relevant intention concerning the sale of the drug.

Offences Involving Children and School Zones

It is an offence to sell, supply, or administer a controlled drug to a child, or have possession of a controlled drug for the purpose of sale, supply, or administration of the drug to a child.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000,000 or imprisonment for life, or both.

It is also an offence to sell, supply, or administer a controlled drug to another person within a school zone, or have possession for the purpose of sale, supply or administration of the drug to a person within a school zone.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000,000 or imprisonment for life, or both.

Where a defendant had in his/her possession a trafficable quantity of a controlled drug within a school zone, it is deemed that the intention was one of sale or supply.

Manufacturing Controlled Drugs

A person will be guilty of an offence if they manufacture a controlled drug or precursor. The term manufacture means: ‘undertaking any process by which the drug is extracted, produced, or refined; or take part in the manufacture of the substance.’

Penalties will vary depending on the quantity of the drug and the intention:

Manufacturing a controlled drug for sale

Maximum penalty for large commercial quantity: $500,000 or imprisonment for life, or both.

Maximum penalty for commercial quantity: $200,000- or 25-years imprisonment.

Maximum penalty for trafficable quantity: $50,000- or 10-years imprisonment, or both.

Manufacturing a controlled precursor for sale

Maximum penalty for large commercial quantity: $200,000- or 25-years imprisonment, or both.

Maximum penalty for commercial quantity: $75,000- or 15-years imprisonment, or both.

Maximum penalty for trafficable quantity: $50,000- or 10-years imprisonment, or both.

Maximum penalty for manufacturing a controlled drug: $35,000- or 7-years imprisonment, or both.

There are potential defences to drug offences. Please contact us for more information.