Australian report weighs in on diversion tactics for cannabis offenses


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

An Australian law enforcement research fund released a report which stated diversion tactics were more effective in cannabis law enforcement than a formal charge.

The report from the Australian National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund found those who were diverted said they had fewer barriers to gaining or retaining employment, less conflict with loved ones, and improved perception of law enforcement.

Diversion law enforcement bases itself on the idea of employing less punitive measures to reduce drug use and future offenses. The measures for minor cannabis offenses include civil fines, drug treatment, and initial warnings.

In terms of cost, the amount of time and paperwork when charging someone for a minor offense is the equivalent of a diversionary approach, which costs far less for law enforcement. Paying these costs results in no actual improvement of outcomes, the report said.

“By considering impacts on drug use, offending and social domains, it shows that diversion does not necessarily reduce drug use,” the report said. “However, it is associated with reductions in offending and a reduction in adverse social outcomes, such as impact on employment.”