In Western Australia, the principle legislation governing drug offences is the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981. This legislation makes illegal:
- Possessing drugs;
- Manufacturing drugs;
- Trafficking drugs;
- Cultivating or selling plants used in making drugs; and
- General drug offences.
The sentencing and penalties for these offences depend on the severity and type of the offence and criminality involved. In August 2017, the newly elected Labor Government introduced the Misuse of Drugs Amendment (Methamphetamine Offences) Bill with the purpose of providing a solution for the State’s ‘drug problem’. This legislation imposes much harsher sentences on those convicted of drug trafficking compared to the rest of the country, specifically in relation to methamphetamine.
WHAT SENTENCES APPLY TO THOSE FOUND GUILTY OF TRAFFICKING METHAMPHETAMINE?
The law prior to the amendment indicated those convicted of drug trafficking could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years in jail and receive a fine of up to $100,000. Under the changes, those convicted can now be sentenced to a maximum of life imprisonment and the judiciary has discretion on the amount it chooses to fine. These new sentencing boundaries apply to people trafficking 28 grams, or more, of methamphetamine.
It has been made clear that the maximum sentence in the amendments will be reserved for the most serious offending under the Act, namely those trafficking ounces of meth. However, the purpose of the legislation is to demonstrate to the public the seriousness of such crimes and so all those found guilty under the new legislation will receive harsher sentences, to meet this purpose. This legislation came into effect on the 18th September 2017 so all individuals offending after this date will be subjected to the tougher penalties.
As the amendments to the drug act have only been in effect for one month, the judiciary has not had a chance to consider these sentencing guidelines. WA magistrates, judges and justices must reflect the seriousness of the new penalties in their judgements. The judiciary still have discretion to decide what is an appropriate sentence for all cases sentenced under the new amendments, but the State has indicated harsher sentences for those found guilty of trafficking at least 28 grams. In the coming months it will become clear how the judiciary has chosen to respond to the new legislation, it is currently unknown how much tougher individual sentences will become.
CONTACT LAWSON LEGAL
Should you, or anyone you know, require any assistance in relation to charges of selling or supplying methamphetamine, or any other criminal matters, contact Lawson Legal on (08) 9225 7417 for your free initial consultation with one of our experienced criminal lawyers.