Cannabis Law News

The Act Cannabis Saga Continues Director Of Public Prosecutions Says, “My View Sitting Here Today Is That I Have No Absolutely Concluded View”.

My view sitting here today is that I have no absolutely concluded view,”

Sarah McNaughton told estimates hearings on Tuesday, saying she would wait until police brought a brief of evidence to decide.

Cannabis users are now facing a legal quagmire. The ACT Assembly has legalised cannabis from the end of January. But the Commonwealth government says cannabis possession remains illegal under federal law and it expects the police to prosecute. The ACT Police have previously said that because the new laws end the decriminalisation regime, they could leave users facing fines of up to $8000 or two years’ jail.

The ACT government has effectively challenged the federal authorities to bring a test case.

“If Commonwealth agencies … prioritise the prosecution of Canberrans caught with a small amount of cannabis, then that is a matter for them and for the federal attorney-general to defend,” a spokesperson said on Sunday. “If more people are going to be incarcerated under these laws, then the conservative Liberals better have a plan for how they are going build more prisons.”

The ball is now in the court of police, which have so far not said what they plan to do if someone is caught with cannabis.

Ms McNaughton said she would decide whether to prosecute when and if she was handed a brief of evidence for a prosecution.

“It would depend what the law looked like when and if I received a brief,” she said.

Read more at the Canberra Times

Here’s a bit of background on the DPP chief



Director, Sarah McNaughton SC

Ms Sarah McNaughton SC

Sarah McNaughton SC commenced her five year term as the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions on 16 May 2016.

Ms McNaughton has 29 years’ experience as a legal practitioner and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Master of Laws from the University of Sydney. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1989, joined the New South Wales Bar in 1996, and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2011.

Prior to her appointment as Director, Ms McNaughton appeared as both prosecution and defence counsel in a number of complex criminal trials, developing specialist expertise in taxation offences, corporate crime, drug importation and terrorism. She appeared for the State of New South Wales at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and was appointed Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Ms McNaughton’s role as Director now includes an appellate practice in intermediate appellate courts across the nation and in the High Court of Australia.

Sean Hocking