Cannabis Intervention Sessions (WA)
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 prescribes and sets out the penalties for all drug-related offences in Western Australia. The Cannabis Law Reform Act 2010 amended the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2010 inserting Part IIIA to allow for cannabis intervention where a person is charged with minor cannabis-related offences. Such a person may participate in Cannabis Intervention Sessions as an alternative to having the matter dealt with by a court.
Minor cannabis-related offences
Minor cannabis-related offences are set out in section 8B(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. A person who commits any of the below-listed offences will have committed a minor cannabis-related offence.
- Possession of any amount of cannabis that does not exceed more than ten grams; AND
- Possession of cannabis that is not a cannabis plant under cultivation, cannabis resin or any other cannabis derivative; OR
- Possession of drug paraphernalia in or on which there is a prohibited drug or a prohibited plant, namely cannabis.
Cannabis intervention requirement
If a person is charged with a minor cannabis-related offence in Western Australian the police can issue that person with a Cannabis Intervention Requirement in the form of a Notice, pursuant to section 8F of the Misuse of Drugs Act. This notice will contain a description of the alleged offence, or offences, and will inform the offender that:
- They may elect, in writing, to be prosecuted for the alleged offences in a Western Australian court; or
- If they do not wish to be prosecuted in a court they may within a period of 28 days from the date the Notice was served on that person elect to participate in Cannabis Intervention Sessions.
How a person can elect either of the above options will be set out in detail on the Notice.
Cannabis intervention sessions
If a person elects to participate in Cannabis Intervention Sessions they must attend, and participate, in sessions with an approved treatment provider within 28 days of receiving the notice.
The purpose of the Cannabis Intervention Sessions is to inform offenders about the adverse consequences of cannabis use not only on a person’s health but also on a person’s social and psychological functioning. The sessions seek to educate offenders on the laws relating to the: use, possession and cultivation of cannabis in WA in order to deter future offending of the same kind. During these sessions, offenders are provided with effective strategies which they can apply in their daily lives to address any behaviours relating to cannabis use.
Often sessions are conducted on a one to one basis and have both a therapeutic and educational function. The treatment provider who runs the sessions is required to be a qualified drug and alcohol counsellor.
Certificate of completion
Once a person has attended and participated in the required number of sessions, with the approved treatment provider, that treatment provider will then provide the person with a certificate of completion. This certificate of completion will set out the name and address of the person, date of completion and the details of the Cannabis Intervention Requirement in respect of which the Cannabis Intervention Sessions were completed.
A copy of this certificate of completion will also be sent to the Commissioner of Police.
Obtaining a certificate of completion is not considered an admission to the offences by that person and it cannot be used against that person in proceedings either in a criminal jurisdiction or a civil jurisdiction. Therefore, the person who completed the sessions is given some level of legal protection from further adverse action.
Benefits of the Cannabis Intervention Sessions
When a person elects not to go to court but instead to engage in the Cannabis Intervention, they will not be prosecuted in court. This means that person will not be subject to the penalties the court may impose for the offence. Offenders also have the opportunity to address any underlying issues and try to avoid future offending of the same kind. Engaging in the sessions is not an admission of guilt.
Where a person is charged with a minor cannabis-related offence in Western Australia that person can elect to either go to court and have the matter dealt with by a Magistrate or attend, and participate in, Cannabis Intervention sessions and not be prosecuted for the offence, or offences. If a person does not wish to be prosecuted for the offence, or offences, he or she can elect to engage in Cannabis Intervention Sessions within 28 days of receiving the Notice. These sessions are usually conducted on a one-on-one basis with an approved treatment provider who is qualified in drug and alcohol counselling. Once sessions have been completed that person will receive a certificate of completion. A copy of this certificate will then be sent to the Commissioner of Police.
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