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Drug Offences

In Queensland, the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 sets out the maximum penalties for drug offences including possessing, supplying, trafficking and importing prohibited drugs. There are numerous offences involving drugs that a person can be charged with, including drug driving offences. 

Offences under the Drugs Misuse Act

Offences under the Act include possessing a prohibited drug, supplying a prohibited drug and trafficking in a prohibited drug. 

Possessing drugs

Possessing a dangerous drug is an offence under section 9 of the Act. This offence can attract long terms of imprisonment. However, if the court sentencing a person for this offence is satisfied that the person was a drug-dependent person at the time of the offence, a lesser maximum penalty applies.

The maximum penalty that applies to a drug possession charge depends on the drug alleged to have been possessed and the quantity alleged to have been in the accused’s possession. When dealt with in the Magistrate Court, these offences carry a maximum of three years imprisonment. When dealt with in the higher courts, much longer terms of imprisonment can be imposed.

Offences involving cannabis can attract sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment where the amount possessed was less than 500 grams or 100 plants, and up to 20 years where the amount was more than 500 grams or 100 plants.

Offence involving cocaine can attract sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment where the amount possessed was under two grams, up to 20 years imprisonment where the amount was over two grams, and up to 25 years where the amount possessed was 200 grams or more.

Supplying drugs

Supplying a dangerous drug is an offence under section 6 of the  Act. This offence carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment when dealt with summarily (in the Magistrates Court).

To find a person guilty of supply a dangerous drug beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must establish that the accused knowingly supplied a dangerous drug to another person without a lawful excuse.

When the offence of supplying a dangerous drug involves a large quantity of a Schedule 1 or 2 drug and the supply occurs under aggravated circumstances (for example, the drug is supplied to a child), the matter will be charged as aggravated supply of a dangerous drug and will be dealt with in the Supreme Court, which may impose a penalty up to 25 years imprisonment.

Trafficking drugs

Drug trafficking is an offence under section 5 of the Act. It carries a maximum penalty of either 20 or 25 years imprisonment depending on the drug trafficked.

It is not necessary for a commercial enterprise to have been a particular size to support a finding of guilt for drug trafficking; however smaller operations between individuals are more likely to result in a charge of supplying a dangerous drug.

Producing dangerous drugs

Producing dangerous drugs is an offence against section 8 of the Act. It can attract a maximum penalty of between 15 and 25 years imprisonment depending on the type and quantity of drug involved.

A person may be found guilty of producing a dangerous drug if they take part in any of the acts required to prepare, produce or manufacture a drug. This includes acts as diverse as growing a cannabis plant from a seed, importing a tablet press and buying pseudoephedrine from a pharmacy to be made into a dangerous drug.

If a person knowingly took part in the preparation, manufacture cultivation, packaging or production of a dangerous drug without a lawful excuse they may be found guilty under this provision.

Drug diversion programs for offences under the Drugs Misuse Act

In Queensland, a person charged with minor offences under the Act may be given the opportunity to take part in a police drug diversion program if they are eligible. A person who is pleading guilty to minor drug offences in Queensland may also have the opportunity to take part in a drug court diversion program This will involve attending a drug assessment and education session and having a conviction recorded against them for the offence.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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