Last updated 3 December 2018
When drug charges are contested, the prosecution will normally obtain an analyst’s certificate to identify and prove the amount of the relevant drug. Section 128 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) states that an analysis certificate is conclusive evidence of the identity and quantity of the thing analysed, in the absence of any contrary evidence. However, a certificate can only be produced by the prosecution to prove facts disclosed on analysis or deducible from the results with the aid of an expert. The prosecution cannot use the certificate as a vehicle for introducing and admitting other evidence. The prosecution also often produces statements from experts about the process of drug production where persons are charged with drug production or possession of chemicals, or things alleged to have been used in drug production. These experts often provide their opinion on the amount of a dangerous drug (mostly amphetamines) that could have been produced from precursor chemicals seized by police.
The Public Health (Medical Cannabis) Act 2016 (Qld) (Medical Cannabis Act) commenced on 1 March 2017 to create a new regulatory framework for prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis to patients in Queensland. The Medical Cannabis Act was introduced in the wake of growing evidence as to the safe use of pharmaceutical products derived from cannabis to treat medical conditions, such as severe, drug-resistant epilepsy in children, appetite loss in HIV/AIDS sufferers and nausea for cancer patients. The Medical Cannabis Act allows medical practitioners to apply to Queensland Health for permission to prescribe a medicinal cannabis product for a patient they feel may benefit from treatment. Some specialist medical practitioners may also be granted authority to prescribe medicinal cannabis as of right, and without having to apply to Queensland Health. The Medical Cannabis Act sets out the processes involved, including the requirements for doctor-patient discussion regarding the use of medicinal cannabis, the form of the Queensland Health application, the establishment of an expert advisory panel to provide advice and make recommendations to Queensland Health and review options. Outside permitted supply and use of medicinal cannabis under the Medical Cannabis Act, cannabis remains an illegal drug in Queensland.