CONFUSION levels were high as to the legality of cactus plants when a Townsville man was brought before the courts for possessing dangerous drugs.
Robert Michael Nakovics faces drug charges relating to cactuses police discovered at his Cranbrook home during a raid on July 2, 2016.
Nakovics allegedly had 20 cactus plants growing at the rear of his property, including San Pedro, Peruvian Torch and Bolivian Torch varieties.
All three forms of Cactus contain mescaline, a dangerous drug that causes hallucinogenic effects that have been compared to those created by LSD or magic mushroom consumption.
Appearing in Townsville Magistrates Court on Friday defence lawyer Brandon Wood of Gun Lawyers said his client would be proceeding by pleading guilty.
However, when Mr Wood said the guilty plea would be referring strictly to the possession of the actual cactus plants, with the prosecution not being able to prove Nakovics extracted the mescaline the cactuses, Magistrate Cathy Wadley sought clarification.
“There are many varieties (of cactus) that are shown here and they look like common garden varieties,” Mrs Wadley said.
“Yes, your honour … there are probably many homes across Townsville … well Australia (with the same plants),” Mr Wood said.
Police prosecutor Mark Fenlon said the Drug Misuse Act was somewhat ambiguous when it came to mescaline while Mr Wood said his client was ready to plead guilty on the understanding that possessing any part of the plant that contained mescaline was illegal.
Mr Wood referenced section 4 of the Drug Misuse Act which states a dangerous drug means “any part of a plant that is a thing stated in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987” (which mescaline is).
But Mrs Wadley, who said she had never encountered such a situation before, remained unconvinced.
“I can’t imagine that section (of the legislation) applies to possessing mescaline because you are growing a cactus,” Mrs Wadley said.
“It’s a very curious topic … is it the prosecution’s position that anyone who owns a cactus including in parks and gardens (is possessing a dangerous drug)?
“It’s a very curious matter that probably needs more exploration.”
The prosecution and defence have been given extra time to seek clarification through case conferencing.
The matter is next due before the courts in March.
The Bulletin attempted to get a clear answer off the State Government as to whether or not it was illegal to own certain varieties of cactus.
The inquiry was passed through the Department of Justice, Department of Environment and the Queensland Police Service with no one being able to provide a straight forward answer.
A QPS spokesman said “the marks on the plant are what’s important … it can be presented as evidence that someone is in possession of the cactus for the mescaline”, but they would not comment further.