Many people tout the benefits of marijuana as a natural medicine, including many healthcare professionals. However, in many countries it’s illegal to use it for any purpose, including medicinal reasons. In Australia, the Federal Government legalised the use of medicinal cannabis in early 2016 and made it legal to grow it as well.
How Legalisation Affects Laws
In the past, cannabis was illegal to use, possess and distribute in the country, and punishments varied by state or territory. In Victoria, it was illegal to possess, cultivate or use marijuana before medicinal cannabis was legalised. However, they were the first state in the country to make it legal to use.
Recreational use of the drug is still illegal, so if you are found with a small quantity of marijuana, which is defined as 50 grams or less, you might get away with a warning if it’s your first offence. However, you will need to attend a drug treatment centre and undergo drug counselling. If you refuse to do so, then you may be arrested by police at a later date.
You can be charged for possession if you are caught with a small quantity of marijuana, 50 grams or less, or if caught with over 50 grams but under 250 grams. If you are caught with more than 250 grams, or cultivating ten or more plants, you could also be charged with trafficking the drug, since those are considered traffickable amounts.
A commercial quantity of marijuana is defined as 25 kilograms or more or possession of 100 or more plants. A large commercial amount is 250 kg or more or 1,000 plants. Charges of possession with smaller amounts could result in fines and five penalty units, but if you have traffickable or commercial amounts, the penalties are much stiffer.
If you’re changed with drug trafficking, you could face fifteen years in jail and a fine of up to 1,800 penalty units. If you are charged with trafficking and possession of commercial amounts of marijuana, the punishment could be 25 years in jail and up to 3,000 penalty units.
A penalty unit is currently worth $158.57 in 2017, so if fined with 3,000 penalty units, the fine would be $475,710. If you’ve been arrested for possession or trafficking marijuana for recreational use, you will need to contact criminal lawyers in Melbourne for help, especially if you have a right to possess it for medicinal purposes.
Possession of Medicinal Cannabis
To legally possess medicinal cannabis, patients must have a letter issued from their General Practitioner and have an importation permit from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. At this time, most medicinal cannabis is imported into the country, but you can grow your own plants as well, as long as you obtain a license.
Doctors recommend using cannabis as an oil or in a vaporiser, as smoking it can cause bronchial irritation and has a higher potency. If you run into legal problems but you possess the proper documentation for legal medicinal cannabis, hire a criminal lawyer to defend your rights under the law.