Keeping Penalties in Line With Community Expectations

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will firstly ensure the maximum penalties for cannabis possession are increased from $500 to $2,000, which is in line with maximum penalties for other drug possession offences.

The Problem

Our drug laws under the Controlled Substances Act have been in operation since 1984.

Since this legislation was enacted more than 30 years ago, many penalties for possession, trafficking and manufacture of drugs have remained unchanged.

However, within this time, drug crimes have changed.

Ice and other chemical drugs are increasingly a scourge on our communities, both metropolitan and regional.

The community expectations for punishing drug offenders has also changed over the last thirty years, and the legislation should reflect that shift.

The maximum penalties for possession and use of cannabis is one example where community expectations for penalties do not match the outdated legislation.

Cannabis is the illicit drug most commonly used by secondary school students, yet it has a maximum penalty of just $500, a penalty which has not increased since 1984.

Further, in actual practice, fines under regulation for cannabis possession are only $150 for an amount less than 25 grams – this is a similar penalty to the one imposed for jaywalking.

Drug use and sales have changed, therefore penalties need to change as well.

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will firstly ensure the maximum penalties for cannabis possession are increased from $500 to $2,000, which is in line with maximum penalties for other drug possession offences.

This change is also in line with both community expectations and recommendations of the South Australian Coroner who sees the deleterious effects of cannabis use regularly.

Further, a Marshall Liberal Government sees the importance of ensuring our laws are kept up to date, and community expectations for all controlled substance offences are considered.

To this end, a review of all penalties under the Controlled Substances Act will be undertaken to ensure they match our current community expectations.

This legislative review will be undertaken in consultation with key community and legal stakeholders and will ensure our courts are given sufficient scope to impose appropriate penalties, reducing reoffending and reducing harm.

Part of our plan for SA