Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Changes To The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2011 (WA)

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2011 was proclaimed on 23 March 2012 and came into force on 24 March 2012.

Mandatory jail for drug manufacturers & suppliers

 

These sections result in the following changes to the law:

i) mandatory sentencing for the sale or supply (or offers to do the same) of drugs by adults to children (child not required to be under 16);

ii) mandatory sentencing for manufacturing or preparing a prohibited drug, or cultivating a prohibited plant, in circumstances that endanger the life, health or safety of a child under 16;

iii) mandatory sentencing for possession of precursor chemicals in circumstances that endanger the life, health or safety of a child under 16; and

iv) amending the Bail Act so that possessing precursor chemicals in circumstances that endanger the life, health or safety of a child under 16 is now a "serious offence".

The mandatory sentencing only applies if the person was an adult at the time of the offence and requires that the offender be sentenced as follows:

i) for a first offence - sentence must be either suspended imprisonment, conditional suspended imprisonment or immediate imprisonment.

ii) for a subsequent offence - a term of immediate imprisonment of at least 6 months.

However, if the offence resulted in actual bodily harm to a child under 16, the offender must be sentenced to a term of immediate imprisonment of at least 12 months.

Adults who expose children to harm through clandestine drug labs targeted


From today, adults who manufacture, cultivate or prepare illicit drugs that cause harm to a child will face a mandatory minimum jail term of 12 months, under tough new drug laws introduced by the Liberal-National Government.

There will also be a mandatory minimum jail term of six months for any adult who is convicted of a second or subsequent offence for selling or supplying drugs to a child or exposing a child to harm through the manufacture, cultivation or preparation of drugs.

Police Minister Rob Johnson said the wide-ranging drug reforms aimed to protect children and the wider community from the dangers posed by clandestine drug laboratories.

Mr Johnson said the legislation fulfilled a Liberal Party election commitment to toughen penalties for drug offences involving children.

“This Government is serious about protecting the community from the insidious drug trade and does not tolerate illicit drug use, supply and manufacture,” he said.

“The message is clear:  any adult who exposes or causes harm to a child through drugs will receive a jail sentence.”

The Minister said the legislation removed sentencing options such as fines, community-based orders or intensive supervision orders for a range of drug offences involving children, which would ensure a person received a jail sentence commensurate with the severity of the offence.

Mr Johnson said WA Police would continue to target the illicit drug trade in Western Australia, with the Serious and Organised Crime Squad currently carrying out a major operation on drug manufacture laboratories as part of the Summer Crime Reduction Strategy.

      Fact File
  • In 2011, 177 clan labs detected by WA Police, with 35 children present at some sites
  • So far this year, 44 labs detected, with 20 children present at some sites
  • Reforms are part of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill 2011
  • Further reforms with increased penalties for display and sale of drug paraphernalia to come into effect soon

KEY REFORMS


The key reforms are:

1.     Causing harm to a child - first and subsequent offence:  where a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, is convicted of manufacturing or preparing a prohibited drug, cultivating a prohibited plant or possessing certain chemicals, and the offence was committed in circumstances which caused bodily harm to a child under the age of 16 years, the court must impose a minimum term of imprisonment of 12 months and must not suspend the term of imprisonment.

2.      Exposing a child to harm - first offence:  if a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, is convicted of manufacturing or preparing a prohibited drug, cultivating a prohibited plant or possessing certain chemicals, and the offence was committed in circumstances which endangered the life, health or safety of a child under the age of 16, the court must use only one of the following sentencing options:
  • suspended imprisonment
  • conditional suspended imprisonment
  • a term of imprisonment.
For a second and subsequent offence, the courts must impose a minimum mandatory jail term of six months imprisonment.
 
3.     Selling drugs to children - first offence:  when the court is sentencing a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, for selling or supplying, or offering to sell or supply, a prohibited drug or prohibited plant to a child under the age of 18 years, the court must use only one of the following sentencing options:
  • suspended imprisonment
  • conditional suspended imprisonment
  • a term of imprisonment.
For a second a subsequent offence, the courts must impose a minimum mandatory jail term of six months imprisonment.


The associated media statement can be located at http://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Results.aspx?ItemID=149132

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