The Australian Law of Growing Tobacco Plants

UPDATE 25th March 2014.

I have noticed that lots of people from Australia have been looking at this post. I hope that they find it informative! Also, it seems that quite a lot of people from New Zealand have been looking. I should observe that, unless the law in New Zealand has changed recently, people there can grow several kilos of tobacco for their own use. That is not the case in Australia, as outlined below.

Many Ausies may have read about the recent seizure of thousands of tobacco plants. I have been amused by this, although it will not have amused Ausies who might want to grow their own.

I’m going to publish a pic of one aspect of the seizure:

aus seizure 2

 

The main thing about the pic which I want to draw attention to is the obvious fact that the growers covered the whole plantation! Look at the section on the left. It is clearly covered over above and to the sides. I wonder what material it was that the growers used? Anyway, my point is that a whitewashed greenhouse or poly-tunnel would work just as well. Look at how well the plants have developed!

Courage cousins! 

UPDATE 2nd January 2014.

While I’m as sure as I can be that the following is theoretically correct, I am pretty sure that the reality is that the ‘authorities’ in Australia are not really all that bothered about people quietly growing a few plants in their gardens and greenhouses, especially in greenhouses. Baccy plants grow really well in greenhouses, and it would be very simple to render the glass/plastic panes of a greenhouse opaque. In any case, I have seen videos of people in Australia curing leaves which they have grown in their gardens openly. Frankly, I cannot see how it would make sense to chase people who grow a few plants privately. Someone was ‘done’ for supplying leaves (but it might have been in New Zealand!), but this guy had several tons of the stuff. Even then, he was fined only a couple of thousand dollars. 

The reason for this update is that this blog seems to be getting more and more visitors from Australia.

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I have been searching high and low on the net tonight to find out what the actual law on growing your own tobacco plants in Australia is. I have finally found it – provided that the law has not since been repealed.

It really is incredible and my heart bleeds for our Australian cousins.

Producing tobacco plants, tobacco leaves and tobacco seeds is indeed forbidden under Australian law. The Act which forbad these things is date 1901. Can I say that again? 1901!!! 

This is from a document which I have found entitled “Excise Guidelines for the Tobacco Industry:

Grow, deal in and move tobacco seed, plant or leafBefore you can grow tobacco seed, plant or leaf you need a producer licence granted under the Excise Act.[7]Before you can deal in (i.e. buy and sell) tobacco seed, plant or leaf you need a dealer licence granted under the Excise Act.[8]Before you can move tobacco seed, plant or leaf you need permission granted under the Excise Act.[9]

Only the first line is of interest – growing.

When I clicked on the [7] at the end of the first line, I found this:

ECTION 28  ONLY LICENSED PRODUCERS TO PRODUCE TOBACCO LEAF ETC.  

28(1)

A person who does not hold a producer licence must not intentionally produce material that is tobacco seed, tobacco plant or tobacco leaf knowing, or being reckless as to whether, the material is tobacco seed, tobacco plant or tobacco leaf.

Penalty:

(a) for tobacco seed or tobacco plant-2 years imprisonment or 500 penalty units; and
(b) for tobacco leaf-2 years imprisonment or the greater of:

(i) 500 penalty units; and
(ii) 5 times the amount of duty, worked out under the regulations, being the duty that would be payable if the tobacco leaf had been manufactured into excisable goods and entered for home consumption on the penalty day.
Note: See section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 for the current value of a penalty unit.

28(2)

A person who does not hold a producer licence must not produce tobacco seed, tobacco plant or tobacco leaf.

Penalty: 100 penalty units.

28(3)

Strict liability applies to subsection (2).

NB. I think that the phrase ‘home consumption’ means ‘in Australia’ and not ‘in the home’.

But it gets worse. Notice the ‘penalty units’ provisions:

(a) for tobacco seed or tobacco plant-2 years imprisonment or 500 penalty units; and (b) for tobacco leaf-2 years imprisonment or the greater of:”

But note the statement:

“Note: See section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 for the current value of a penalty unit.”

So I checked section 4AA and found this:

penalty unit means $170.

$170!!!

So a ‘fine’ of 500 penalty units equals 500 x $170! Equals $85,000!!!! Thus, if you grow one tobacco plant (without a licence), you are possibly liable for a fine of $85,000!!!

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There are a couple of observations which ensue:

1. The draconian nature of the penalty suggests that the measure (from 1901, don’t forget) was aimed at ‘big players’.

2. That there were, at the time, special needs in Australia for such legislation – akin to King James’s prohibition of tobacco growing in England around 1650. I have little doubt in my mind that the above provisions were enacted to protect the aristocratic control of the tobacco industry in Australia.

3. That one of the reasons that Tobacco Control chose Australia to become the most tyrannical of prohibitionist states is precisely because of this ancient, unrepealed  law.

One’s heart bleeds for our Australian cousins.

UPDATE 8th April.

Perhaps I should also mention that it seems that tobacco companies no longer grow plants in Australia – all their leaf is imported.

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2 Responses to “The Australian Law of Growing Tobacco Plants”

  1. smockr Says:

    -good find. The absurdity of it all. Wonder how much the penalty is for cannabis. 😉

    • junican Says:

      I saw a comment on a blog that I happened upon which said that you might as well grow cannabis because the penalties are the same, but I cannot vouch for the accuracy!

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