Cannabis Cautioning Scheme

Cannabis Cautioning Scheme

The Cannabis Cautioning Scheme provides for formal police cautioning of adult offenders detected for minor cannabis offences. 

The Scheme has been in place since 2000, and is operated by NSW Police Force.  The Scheme was developed in response to a NSW Drug Summit finding that arresting people for minor drug offences is not always an effective response.

The Cannabis Cautioning Scheme uses police intervention to assist offenders to consider the legal and health ramifications of their cannabis use and seek treatment and support.

Police can exercise their discretion in appropriate cases and issue a caution. Police are still able to decide instead to formally charge offenders. 

A person can only be cautioned twice and cannot be cautioned at all if they have prior convictions for drug offences or offences of violence or sexual assault. 

The Scheme does not apply to those caught supplying cannabis.  Drug dealers continue to be arrested and prosecuted under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

The Caution

The formal NSW Police Force caution warns of the health and legal consequences of cannabis use. The caution notice provides contact telephone numbers for the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS). ADIS provides a dedicated, confidential service to a cautioned offender that includes information about treatment, counselling and support services.

People who receive a second and final caution are required to contact ADIS for a mandatory education session about their cannabis use.