A Bill has just been passed by Queensland parliament which, among other things, creates a ‘three strike’ system for minor drug offences in Queensland. The legislation relaxes the current laws that police must follow, allowing three chances before a person can be sent to court for most low-level drug offences — including possession of cannabis, ice, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, ketamine and steroids.

The new legislation came into effect on 3 May 2024.

Under the new system, to be eligible for diversion the drugs must be for personal use and the amount of drug must be less than the prescribed quantity of drugs or medicine (see table below). The scheme will also extend to other offences normally charged at the same time, such as possessing utensils like bongs and syringes, as well as other items like scales and clip seal bags.

If the criteria is met, then a person who is arrested or being questioned about a minor drug offence is eligible for diversion. The three strike system must then be followed by police:

  • A drug diversion warning; then
  • An offer to attend a drug diversion assessment program; then
  • A second offer to attend a drug diversion assessment program.

If there is a fourth occasion, police are then entitled to charge a person and send their matter to court to be dealt with.

People who are not eligible for the new scheme include people who have previously been sentenced to imprisonment for drug trafficking, supply, or production, as well as people who committed a crime to buy the drugs, or happen to have drugs on them while committing serious crimes.

Personal possession limits

The following limits are the maximum amount a person can have on them at any one time (see Schedule 1B to the Regulation here):

  • Amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, methylamphetamine (ice), methadone, morphine, THC, ketamine — 1g
  • MDMA — 4 pills, tablets, or capsules (0.7g per pill)
  • Cannabis — 50g
  • LSD — 3 tabs
  • PCP — 0.2g
  • Nandrolone, testosterone — 50g
  • Codeine, opium — 5g
  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybin) — 0.04g
  • Schedule 4 drugs (most benzodiazepines like diazepam and nitrazepam) — any quantity

Final thoughts

Slowly, the law seems to be catching up with social and medical research on drug use, which suggests that early intervention and diversion to health and education services means people are less likely to reoffend. The expansion of the diversion program is backed by senior police and our Police Commissioner, and of course welcomed by the Queensland legal profession.

If you’ve run out of chances, or you’ve been charged by police with a drug offence, you should immediately contact us to protect your rights. You can read all about our experience in defending drug charges on our dedicated page.

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