Nimbin Mardi Grass 2002

Cannabis Law Reform Rally

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MARDI GRASS 2002 - ORIGINS - PAST YEARS - NEWS - nimbin HEMP embassy
Pot & The Law
Under New South Wales (NSW) law, it is an offence to possess, use, supply, or cultivate cannabis.

Supply includes selling, giving away or (technically) sharing pot. Supply also includes possession of 300 grams or more of cannabis, which is "deemed" to be for supply. In that case, you must prove in court that the possession was for reasons other than supply.

Cultivation means some activity to assist the growing or harvesting of cannabis, such as planting or watering. Even growing one seedling is an offence.

If you are arrested
You do not have to answer police questions or make a statement, even after you are arrested. Just give your name and address so that bail can be granted.

Remember that the police must prove your guilt - anything you say may make it easier for them to do just that. Generally it is better to say nothing until you have had legal advice.

Police Cautions
The police have the power to issue cautions (rather than take a case to court) where the amount of cannabis involved is 15 grams or less, and where you have no prior convictions, are not charged with another offence, and admit guilt. If you are cautioned twice, you must attend compulsory drug counselling. On the third occasion, the case must go to court.

Search warrants
Police are legally entitled to enter private property if they are invited or if they have a search warrant. A search warrant gives police the power to search anybody found on the premises, to use reasonable force to break open doors and cupboards, and to seize and remove any illegal items discovered.

Personal searches
The police have the power to search you in a public place, without a warrant, if the police believe on reasonable grounds that you might possess a prohibited drug (or a knife, or evidence of a crime).

Sniffer dogs
The law about sniffer dogs remains a bit unclear. There is an appeal still to be heard against one magistrate's decision that a dog's sniffing activity amounted to a search (so that the police would need reasonable suspicion before they use the dog).

Recent legislation makes it legal for police to use sniffer dogs in some places (on or near railway stations, in licensed premises, at dance parties and music festivals). That same law makes it illegal for the police to use dogs for random street searches without a warrant.

The quantity of drugs involved determines both the maximum penalty for the offence, and whether the case is heard in the Local Court or the District Court.

The maximum penalty for use or possession of a small quantity (30 grams or less) is a fine of $2,200 and/or 2 years jail.

The maximum penalty for supply or cultivation depends on the quantity involved. As an example, the maximum penalty for the supply of 300 grams is a fine of $10,000 and/or 2 years jail. The maximum penalty for cultivating 250 plants is a fine of $385,000 and/or 15 years jail.

These are maximum penalties - the actual penalty imposed will be considerably less, especially for a first offender.

The most common penalty for possession of small amounts or cultivation of a few plants is a fine of several hundred dollars or a good behaviour bond.

MARDI GRASS 2002 - ORIGINS - PAST YEARS - NEWS - nimbin HEMP embassy

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