Criminal Law

Drugs and the Law

The Australian penalties for drugs are quite complex – there are different consequences for different crimes. There are four main types of drug crimes in Australia that people are charged with:

  1. Use
  2. Possession
  3. Production (including manufacture or cultivation)
  4. Supply and Trafficking

Drug use

What is drug use?

No matter how someone ingests drugs – whether it is smoking, inhaling, injecting or swallowing – it is illegal and if caught and they will be charged. Illegal drugs include marijuana, amphetamines, ecstasy, hallucinogens, cocaine and heroin. It does not include prescription medication supplied by a doctor.

What is the penalty for drug use?

A drug use conviction could result in a fine of up to $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years. Or it could include both of these penalties combined. In addition to this, an individual may also receive a criminal record which can impact their ability to get a job, credit card or travel overseas.

Drug possession

What is drug possession?

If you are caught with illegal drugs in your possession (such as in your pockets, bag, room or car) you will be charged will drug possession. This is one of more common types of drug offences in Australia.

What is the penalty for drug possession?

For a simple drug possession offence, it could result in a $2,000 fine or 2 years in prison, or both.  However, for more serious drug or large amounts of illegal drugs in your possession could result in more significant penalties. An alternative that is sometimes offered to somebody that has committed a minor drug offence is the drug diversion program.

Drug production

What is drug production?

Drug production includes the preparation, manufacture, cultivation, packaging, production of illegal substances. This includes the cultivation of cannabis which involves planting the seeds, watering the plants, shading them from the sun and picking the leaves.

What is the penalty for drug production?

The maximum penalties are determined according to where the drug is placed on the schedule and the quantity. The punishment for growing or making drugs to sell them can be a fine of up to $100,000 or as much as 25 years in jail, or both.  

Drug supply and trafficking

What is drug supply and trafficking?

Even a single sale of an illegal drug, together with proof that business was being carried on, constitutes drug trafficking. Drug supply and trafficking are very serious offences that carries hefty penalties. The police can charge you with a ‘serious drug offence’ if you sell illegal drugs or offer to or intend to sell them to someone else (even if you don’t go through with the actual sale).

What is the penalty for drug supply and trafficking?

A person who unlawfully traffics in dangerous drugs commits an offence punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment, a $100,000 fine, or both. If you are caught with only supplying or trafficking cannabis, the maximum penalty you would receive is $20,000- or 10-years’ jail.

More information on drug laws

The Courts take drug offences very seriously. If you have been charged with any of the above drug offences or would like to find out more, you should seek immediate legal advice and support from one of our experienced lawyers.

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