This article was written by Andrew Fraser - Senior Associate - Canberra

Andrew works in the areas of criminal law and traffic law, providing practical advice in all of his clients’ matters. Andrew has, over many years, developed positive working relationships with prosecutors, magistrates and judges. His no-nonsense approach means he has a reputation for putting forward the best case possible for clients. Andrew has won many matters for his clients, including...

Manufacturing Controlled Drug


In the ACT, it is an offence to make or participate in making illegal/controlled drugs. In the ACT, the maximum penalty for manufacturing a controlled drug is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of 700 penalty units.

What is Manufacturing A Controlled Drug? 

The offence is defined in Sections 609, 614 and 614a of the Criminal Code 2002.

The manufacture of a substance is any process that causes a new substance to be created (excluding plant cultivation) and includes:

  • extracting or refining the original substance;
  • modifying it into a new substance.

A person is involved in the manufacture of a substance if they:

  • engage in its manufacture;
  • control or direct how it is manufactured;
  • provide the capital or arranges finance for its manufacture.

Under Section 614, a person commits an offence if they possess any substance, any equipment, or any document containing instructions, for making a controlled drug and have the intention to use that information to manufacture a controlled drug; or supply the information to someone else; and has the knowledge that they will use it to manufacture a controlled drug.

Section 614A states that a person commits an offence if they possess a tablet press and are reckless about whether the thing is a tablet press. A person will not be charged if they have a reasonable excuse for possessing the tablet press, such as that they are allowed to manufacture a regulated substance in accordance with authorisation under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008.

What Actions Might Constitute Manufacturing a Controlled Drug?

Actions which constitute an offence include:

  • cooking Ice in a caravan;
  • going to your friend’s house and helping him or her by operating the pill press;
  • buying pseudoephedrine from numerous pharmacies and mixing it with other ingredients you’ve bought over a period of time to make MDMA;
  • going online, finding a recipe or home kit to make your own ecstasy and making it at home; or
  • taking a cash-in-hand job to help a person making heroin out of a makeshift drug lab in the middle of the bush.

What The Police Must Prove

The police must prove:

  • that you were manufacturing or producing controlled drugs;
  • that you were aware of and took part in the manufacturing or production of that drug;
  • that the substance you manufactured, produced or helped in manufacturing or producing was a controlled drug.

Possible Defences To Manufacturing A Controlled Drug

Defences to the offence include:

  • that even though you were involved in the manufacture of controlled drugs, you did not do so knowingly;
  • that the substance manufactured was not a controlled drug;
  • that you did not intend to sell any of the drug and/or did not know that someone else was going to sell it;
  • that you acted under duress.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

In the most recent statistical period this offence has been decided in the ACT Supreme Court, though it is technically possible to seek to have the matter dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Related Offences

Section 613 describes an additional offence, whereby a person commits an offence if they supply to someone any substance, equipment or document with instructions for the purpose of manufacturing a controlled drug; and has the knowledge that the person will use the substance or information to manufacture a controlled drug; and/or intends to sell the manufactured drug.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 7 years imprisonment or 700 penalty units.

Examples include:

  • supplying someone with money to buy an oven;
  • going to a pharmacy for someone and buying pseudoephedrine;
  • printing instructions so that someone can manufacture a controlled drug.

If you require legal advice about this offence or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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