Sydney Office

Level 35
201 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Melbourne Office

Level 4
99 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Brisbane Office

Level 5
231 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000

Canberra Office

Level 5
1 Farrell Place
Canberra ACT 2601

Armstrong Legal Logo

Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions

Copyright © 2017 Armstrong Legal. All rights reserved.


Phone 1300 168 676


Toggle Menu Menu

Possession of precursors for manufacture


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW it is an offence to possess a substance that is a 'precursor' to an illegal drug. A precursor is an ingredient or substance that can be used along with other ingredients or substances to make an illegal drug. Precursors include things such as chemicals, plants, fungi or other natural organisms.

A person can be charged with this offence if they have a substance which is shown to be a precursor to an illegal drug and they do not have a reasonable excuse for having it.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years imprisonment or 1000 penalty units.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a possession of precursors charge.


The offence of Possess Precursor is contained in section 24B(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 and states:

A person who has in his or her possession a precursor of a quantity not less than the quantity prescribed by the regulations in relation to that precursor is guilty of an offence.


Examples of Possess Precursor include:

  • Having ten boxes of pseudoephedrine in your car;
  • Being found to have a jug which contains benxaldehyde (a chemical used to make methamphetamine) in your garage;
  • Having several small canisters of methylamine (a gas used to make methamphetamine) in your backpack; or
  • Storing multiple chemicals and plants in your makeshift drug lab.


To convict you of Possess Precursor the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt:

  • That you were in possession of a substance;
  • That the substance was a precursor to a prohibited drug; and
  • You were aware you were in possession of the substance.


The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • To argue that you were not in possession of the substance;
  • To argue that the substance is not a precursor to a prohibited drug;
  • To argue that you were not aware you were in possession of the substance;
  • To argue that you had the substance for a lawful activity or that you otherwise have a reasonable excuse for having it; or
  • To raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.


The offence is a Table 1 offence which means that it will be finalised in the Local Court unless you or the Prosecutor chooses to have it dealt with in the District court.


The form seems straight forward and can seem to be an attractive alternative to attending court in person. However using them can be a very bad idea.

It is important to be wary of Police that convey to you that they you can simply complete the written notice instead of attending court. While technically true, it is not advisable. Not only does it reflect poorly on you but you can be convicted and sentenced in your absence with little chance to advocate your case. Read More >

Types of penalties:

Jail: This is the most serious penalty and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Intensive correction order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines: When deciding the amount the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.

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.

Why Choose Armstrong Legal?

Law 9000 Legal Best Practice Accredited Specialists Criminal Law CorpINTL Hitwise Top 10 Website Sydney Business Awards Winner 2011