Sentencing Drug Offenders
The maximum penalties for offences are set out above. Aspects which may be considered, when sentencing include:
- the nature of the drug (including type and quantity);
- qualities of the offender (including degree of addiction, motive, prior record of drug offences and age);
- the facts of the offence (including the degree, level and character of involvement);
- the influence of the legislative context (including the category of offence, and levels of maximum penalties);
- the community impact of the offence (including any moral responsibilities of the offender, deterrence and the magnitude of social harm).
Matters concerning possession and personal use of small quantities of cannabis are dealt with in the Magistrates Court. The penalty is almost always a fine and an order to pay costs, sometimes together with an adjournment with conditions. Quite often an adjournment with conditions alone is ordered.
Probation for addicts on the basis that they seek treatment presents some difficulties in areas where the facilities for treatment are limited.
The various factors involved in sentencing are numerous and vary with the changing attitudes of the time. To make comparisons is exceedingly difficult. The more addictive and socially damaging the drug concerned is considered to be, the more likely is it to be reflected in the severity of punishment and to engage in commercial activity will often mean a jail sentence.
Page last updated 13/12/2017