WESTERN AUSTRALIA EASES RULES ON CANNABIS CANBERRA - Western Australia has become the second state to decriminalise cannabis in a bid to reduce the police and courts workload and divert more users to counselling. Possession of small amounts of cannabis is already decriminalised in South Australia, and in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory - both self-governing, but still subject to federal Parliament. The new WA laws, which came into effect yesterday, are part of a growing trend to ease prosecutions for cannabis possession, which make up by far the largest drug caseload for Australia's law agencies. Although no Government has accepted arguments for the legalisation of the drug, numerous reports and studies have recommended its removal from criminal sanctions. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland still treat cannabis possession as a criminal offence, but give police wide discretion. The new WA laws provide for fines of up to A$150 ($170) and compulsory drug education classes for people caught with up to 30g of cannabis, or a A$200 fine for growing two plants. As in South Australia, the far more potent hydroponically grown plants remain illegal, and dealing is still a criminal offence. In SA, fines of up to A$150 may be imposed on people caught with less than 100g grams or one non-hydroponically grown. The Liberal Opposition has condemned the new laws and has promised to repeal them when it is returned to power.