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growing cannabis in south australia

More serious charges likely if evidence of sale or supply

Reminder notice

The expiation notice must be given to the alleged offender stating that the offence may be expiated by payment to the Commissioner of Police of the prescribed expiation fee before the expiration of 28 days from the date of the notice. The notice may be given personally to the alleged offender or posted to his or her last known place of residence.

Commercial purpose attracts higher penalties

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Where the offence is expiated (that is, the fee paid within time) no prosecution for the offence shall proceed. In addition, the payment of an expiation fee will not be regarded as an admission of guilt [Expiation of Offences Act 1996 (SA) s 15(4)]. If the amount of the expiation notice is not paid enforcement proceedings may be undertaken, or the expiation notice may be withdrawn and a summons to attend court may be issued [s 16(1)(b)]. If the offence is expiated, any substance and equipment may also be forfeited [s 15(5)].

Where a person commits a ‘simple’ cannabis offence they may be issued with a Cannabis Expiation Notice by the police rather than a summons to attend court [see s 45A(2)]. This requires payment of an ‘on the spot’ fine and allows an individual to avoid prosecution in court.

Where a person is found guilty of cultivating between 2-5 plants, the maximum penalty in such cases is $2 000 or 2 years imprisonment, or both [s 33K(2)]. When the number of plants is over 5 but under 10, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $2000 [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 33K(1)(a)(ii)]. However for an aggravated offence, or a basic offence where the offender is a serious drug offender, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of up to $5 000 and/or imprisonment for 5 years [ss 33K(1)(a)(i); 33K(1)(b)]. If a person is able to prove that the plants were for personal use or supply and not sale, regardless of the number, then this penalty will also apply. However, this would be difficult with large numbers of plants.

Legal Help for all South Australians

Possession in a public place

Cannabis grown hydroponically is specifically excluded from the Cannabis Expiation Notice scheme [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 45A(8)].

Police said about 65 cannabis plants were found behind the doorway, in what appeared to be a "nursery-style set-up".

South Australian police say they have found dozens of cannabis plants growing in a "secret underground room" through a hidden doorway, behind a bookshelf, on a property north-east of Adelaide.

Key points:

"Those members of the community who engage in this criminal activity do so at their own risk and need to be aware that police are continually conducting investigations and operations to target this activity."

They allegedly found a "hidden" doorway, which could only be opened electronically, behind a bookshelf inside the Greenwith property in Adelaide's north-east.