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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Legislative Options for Cannabis - Australian Government




Victoria appears not to have any government-implemented pre-court drug diversion programs ([26]Walters & Coventry 1993). The Alcoholics and Drug Dependent Person's Act 1968 (Vic), s13 provides for bonds under which offenders may be ordered to attend treatment as an alternative to a custodial sentence (Skene 1986, cited in [27]Walters 1993, p11). Programs are available for offenders who are detected to be intoxicated at the time of the offence and considered by the court to be 'habitually using intoxicating liquor or drugs of addiction'.

The Court Advice and Assessment Programme precipitates a court report which makes recommendations on the suitability of a community-based order, and provides a management plan based on the offender's level of substance use. Referral to the program is at the discretion of the court, and applies only at the magistrate's jurisdiction, but is not limited to particular offences ([28]Gray, Reynolds & Rumbold 1992, p130). In addition, s67 of the Act allows for a good behaviour bond for first offenders so that the number of drug users ending up in court is not large.

A current study being carried out in Victoria by the National Centre for Socio-Legal Studies ([29]Walters & Coventry 1993) for the Victoria Police, is considering a pilot pre-court drug diversion program for 'all first-time drug offenders apprehended for use and possession offences regardless of the illicit substance'. At the time of detection and arrest these offenders would be considered 'recreational users', and one option for processing such offenders would be a diversion panel. In this case it would be up to the panel to assess the nature and extent of drug use and recommend a course of action ([30]Walters & Coventry 1993, p7).


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