Cannabis Law Reform – Research


There have been a number of inquiries, reviews and commissioned research in Western Australia (WA) concerned with the adequacy of existing policies and potential reforms to manage problems attributable to the use of alcohol, cannabis and other drugs. Details of those conducted since the early 1970s are listed elsewhere on the Inquiries and review page of this website.

This page is concerned with research related to cannabis law enforcement issues and cannabis law reform.

Unpublished research

These short unpublished papers are listed because of potential historical interest. It should be noted the information in some of these papers is not current and more recent research should be consulted.

Swensen (2014) Spent conviction orders & cannabis law reform in WA: The triumph of rhetoric?

This paper considers how a new scheme for cautioning minor cannabis offenders in Western Australia (WA) has resulted in manifest unfairness of how a person can expunge a record for a conviction for a minor cannabis offence, depending on whether they were convicted before or after 1 August 2011.

This issue arises from the adoption of the cannabis intervention requirement (CIR) scheme, which commenced in WA on 1 August 2011, after amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 (MDA), for police to issue a caution for two specific minor cannabis offences, involving possession –

  • of any drug paraphernalia in or on which there is cannabis (MDA Section 7B(6)), or
  • of not more than 10 grams of cannabis (MDA Section 6(2)).

Because of the approach adopted by the Cannabis Law Reform Act 2010, which amended the Spent Convictions Act 1988, there are now two pathways to obtain a spent conviction order for a minor cannabis offence, depending on whether the person was convicted before or after 1 August 2011.

The differences in the time between conviction and when an application for a spent conviction order may be lodged, are considerable because if it was a minor cannabis conviction pre August 2011 the prescribed period is 10 years, whereas if it is a conviction from 1 August 2011, the prescribed period is three years.

Click here to view or download a PDF version [121k] of this paper.

Swensen (2011) Cannabis arrests: Australia and other jurisdictions – 2004

It provides information about cannabis arrests and all drug arrests in each Australian jurisdiction and the United Kingdom for the year 2004/2005 and New Zealand and the United States for 2004. (Only cannabis arrests for the US data were readily available for 2004.)

Click here to view or download a PDF (238k) version of this publication.

Swensen (2009 Hydroponic cannabis and potency

This paper was prepared in September 2009. It discusses developments at that time in the WA, SA and the ACT infringement schemes in relation to hydroponically cultivated cannabis and amendments in 2006 in New South Wales (NSW) which created new offences and increased the penalties applicable to hydroponically cultivated cannabis.

Click here to view or download a PDF version [299k] of this paper.