Is possession of marijuana legal in Queensland?

Welcome to Sisters In Law, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all of your legal problems. This week, our resident lawyers and real-life sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett from Maurice Blackburn advise about the legalities of growing marijuana.

Question:

My 19-year-old son is a good kid but I’m worried about one aspect of his life. He works full-time and largely lives his own life but still lives at home.

His bedroom is in a separate area of the house and he has access to a little loft space. I recently discovered that he has two marijuana plants in the loft which are being kept alive with an impressive light system he’s rigged up.

I don’t have a massive issue with him smoking weed but I challenged him about the plants as I was worried he was dealing, which he promised he isn’t.

What would happen if the police discovered these plants? I’m scared he’ll end up in jail – or that I’ll end up in jail! – Anon, Qld

Answer:

This is a complicated situation and even more so given your son’s age, it’s not like a situation of a young child taking a lolly from the shop where you can simply take it back and ask a friendly police officer to have a chat with them about their behaviour.

Whilst possession of marijuana is now legal in certain circumstances in Queensland (if it is being used medicinally and as prescribed by a doctor), it’s unlikely that is the case for your son.

Possessing and using cannabis remains illegal for most people in Queensland and the penalty, if caught, can range from a small fine to a period of imprisonment (up to 15 years in jail for under 100 plants).

Smoking marijuana outside a private property is likely to result in a higher fine for your son too, and this is usually the case even for people with a medical prescription.

As your son is growing marijuana if he was caught then it’s likely that he would be charged with production of a drug. Production offences can carry much heavier penalties than possession offences.

In relation to whether you could be charged, because the marijuana plants are in your home, you are aware of their existence and they are arguably under your control, it would be open to the police to also charge you with possession.

Further you could be an accessory to a crime, an offence many people have likely heard mentioned in the news.

An accessory to a crime is a person who did not directly commit the offence but was indirectly involved in the crime at some point.

In Queensland, to be found guilty of an accessory charge a number of elements need to be proved by the prosecution, beyond reasonable doubt. These are:

1. It must be shown that an offence or crime was committed. (In your situation this would be your son being found guilty of a drug offence.)

2. After the offence was committed you assisted your son, and

3. You knew or believed that the drug offence was committed. (You finding the drugs is likely enough for this to be proven.)

4. Your behaviour was done for the purpose of enabling your son to escape punishment. (This really means that you were trying to cover up the situation to protect him.)

It goes without saying that you should always ensure you report suspected criminal offences, a drug dealer or suspicion of a drug dealer to police.

For further assistance, there are many helpful government and community resources available to provide support to you and your son.

This may include advice from a criminal lawyer, Legal Aid or Family Drug Support which provides support groups, education programs and counselling.

This legal information is general in nature and should not be regarded as specific legal advice or relied upon. Persons requiring particular legal advice should consult a solicitor.

If you have a legal question you would like Alison and Jillian to answer, please email stories@news.com.au

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