Marijuana and the law

You may well have heard someone say “Marijuana is legal now – it is legal in Canberra,
it has been decriminalised in New South Wales. You just aren’t allowed to sell it.” Is this
Well, in simplistic terms – no! Marijuana (or ‘cannabis’ as it known in law enforcement
circles) is illegal everywhere in Australia. The penalties that one can incur for having,
selling or growing marijuana varies a lot from state to state.
We have set out below the state by state position so that the bigger picture of laws
relating to cannabis in Australia can be shown.
New South Wales

  • Any cannabis offence is a criminal offence and therefore can carry a criminal
  • Cautions may be given at police discretion to persons found with up to 15 grams
    of cannabis, on up to two occasions.
  • Cautions are accompanied by information regarding cannabis usage and a
    number for an advice line.
  • Cannabis offences are criminal offences, but are tried in a specialised drug court
    rather than a regular criminal court.
  • It is at the discretion of the arresting officer whether to charge a person found with
    less than 50 grams cannabis or refer them to a ‘diversion’ program for help and
    education, this discretion by the police is only given on two occasions.
  • Possession and use of cannabis is a criminal offence in Queensland.
  • A person found to have less than 50 grams of cannabis must be offered a drug
    diversion program on their first offence.
    Western Australia
  • Cannabis offences are criminal offences in Western Australia and Western
    Australia has some of the toughest laws in Australia regarding cannabis use.
  • A person found to have less than 10 grams of cannabis or a used smoking
    instrument (such as a pipe or water pipe) must attend a Cannabis Intervention
    session within 28 days or they will receive a criminal conviction.
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  • Possession of cannabis carries a criminal charge in Tasmania.
  • A person found with up to 50 grams of cannabis can be cautioned, at the police
    officer’s discretion, up to three times in ten years.
  • The nature of each caution differs, growing in severity from the person being
    given information in the first instance to the possibility of being sent for treatment
    for drug use in the third instance.
    South Australia
  • Minor cannabis offences have been decriminalised in South Australia. This does
    not mean it is ‘legal’.
  • Persons who are found to have up to 100 grams of cannabis, 20 grams of hash
    resin, one non-hydroponic plant (which means it is grown in soil) or smoking
    equipment are issued with a fine of up to $150 and given 60 days to pay the fine.
    Northern Territory
  • Cannabis has been decriminalised in the Northern Territory, however it is still
  • Persons found in possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis or 1 gram of hash or
    cannabis seeds or two non-hydroponic plants can face fines of up to $200 and 28
    days to pay the fine to avoid a charge.
    Australian Capital Territory
  • Cannabis has been decriminalised in the Australian Capital Territory but is still not
  • Persons found with less than 25 grams of cannabis or up to two non-hydroponic
    cannabis plants are offered the choice to pay a fine or attend a treatment
    Cannabis or Marijuana is not legal in any state or territory of Australia.
    Contrary to what seems to be a reasonably popular belief, there is no part of Australia
    where marijuana and its products are legal to grow, possess or sell. When examined on
    a state-by-state basis, it is clear that while in some states and territories the personal
    use of marijuana has been decriminalised, users and possessors still face repercussions
    if they decide to use or possess any cannabis or cannabis related products.
    If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please
    contact us on 02 9191 9293 or email