Police drug diversion is a legislated diversion program that allows police to offer an eligible person with the opportunity to participate in a drug diversion assessment program, as an alternative to prosecution. Police drug diversion does not decriminalise or legalise the possession or use of cannabis.
Most drug offences in Queensland involve possession of small amounts of cannabis. A court appearance without appropriate health interventions has not been successful in reducing cannabis use or drug related offences. The aim of drug diversion is to reduce the number of people appearing before the courts for minor drugs offences and to provide these people with access to a brief health intervention to help them address their drug use and associated offending behaviour.
Police drug diversion is legislated under s. 379: 'Additional case where arrest for a minor drugs offence may be discontinued' of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.
To be eligible for drug diversion a person must:
- be arrested for, or questioned about, a minor drugs offence;
- not have committed another indictable offence in circumstances related to the minor drugs offence;
- not have been previously sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment for supply, trafficking or production of a dangerous drug or precursors;
- not have been previously convicted of an offence involving violence against another person or if they have, the rehabilitation period under the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 must have expired;
- admit to having committed the minor drugs offence during an electronically recorded interview; and
- not have previously been offered drug diversion by a police officer.
A minor drugs offence is defined as the possession of not more than 50 grams of cannabis, or a thing that is used, or has been used for, smoking cannabis. It does not include offences involving the production, supply or trafficking of cannabis.
If a person participates in, and completes, a drug diversion assessment program they will not:
- be charged with a criminal offence for the minor drugs offence;
- have to attend court for the minor drugs offence; or
- have a criminal record for the minor drugs offence.
They will also receive factual information about the consequence of illicit drug use and access to information and support to stop their drug use.