This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

Offences Involving Cocaine (Vic)


In Victoria, the maximum penalty for possession of cocaine is dependent on whether the court is satisfied that you were not in possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Cocaine is listed as a drug of dependence in Schedule 11 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (VIC).

If the court is satisfied that you did not possess the cocaine for trafficking purposes, the maximum penalty is a fine up to 30 penalty units or one year’s imprisonment. If the court is satisfied that you were in possession of the cocaine for trafficking purposes, the maximum penalty is a fine up to 400 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment.

The Offence of Possession Of Cocaine

The offence of possession of cocaine is contained in section 73 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substance Act 1981, which states:

‘A person who without being authorized by or licensed under this Act or the regulations or the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 or the regulations under that Act to do so has or attempts to have in his possession a drug of dependence is guilty of an indictable offence’

Cocaine is listed as a drug of dependence in Schedule 11 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981.

What is Possession?

Section 5 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 states that unless you can prove otherwise, you will be deemed to have cocaine in your possession where it is:

  • On your land or premises occupied by you; or
  • Used, enjoyed or controlled by you.

An individual is also deemed to be in possession of cocaine if they have physical control or custody of the cocaine to the exclusion of others.

What Actions Might Constitute “Possession of Cocaine”?

  • Having cocaine in your pocket;
  • Having cocaine in the glovebox in a vehicle which is being driven by you and is registered by you and no one else uses that vehicle;
  • Having cocaine in a backpack being used by yourself and not being used or accessed by anyone else.

What Police Need to Prove

To convict you of possession of cocaine, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That the substance was in your possession; and
  • The substance was cocaine.

Traffic Cocaine

In Victoria, pursuant to section 71AC of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, the maximum penalty for Trafficking or Attempting to Traffick in cocaine is 15 years’ imprisonment. If the trafficking or attempt to traffick cocaine occurred at a school or within 500 metres of a school, the maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment.

The Offence of Trafficking Cocaine

The offence of trafficking cocaine is contained in section 71AC of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 which states:

‘A person who, without being authorised or licenced under this Act or the regulations or the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 or the regulations under that Act to do so, trafficks or attempts to traffick in a drug of dependence is guilty of an indictable offence’.

What is a Traffickable Quantity?

Under section 70 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, a ‘Traffickable Quantity’ of a drug of dependence is specified in Schedule 11 of the Act. The traffickable quantity for cocaine is 3 grams.

What Actions Might Constitute Trafficking Cocaine?

  • Selling cocaine to your friends; or
  • Having a traffickable quantity of cocaine in your backpack.

What Police Need to Prove

To convict you of Trafficking cocaine, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You intentionally ‘trafficked’ or ‘attempted to traffick’ cocaine; and
  • That the substance was cocaine.

Trafficking Cocaine – Commercial Quantity

In Victoria, pursuant to section 71AA of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, the maximum penalty for Trafficking or Attempting to Traffick in cocaine – Commercial Quantity is 25 years’ imprisonment.

What is a Commercial Quantity?

Under section 70 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, a ‘Commercial Quantity’ of a drug of dependence is specified in Schedule 11 of the Act. The commercial quantity for cocaine is 250 grams or 500 grams with mixed substances.

What Police Need to Prove

To convict you of Trafficking cocaine – Commercial Quantity, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You intentionally ‘trafficked’ or ‘attempted to traffick’ cocaine;
  • That the substance was cocaine; and
  • That the substance that was cocaine was of a Commercial Quantity.

Trafficking Cocaine – Large Commercial Quantity

In Victoria, pursuant to section 71 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, the maximum penalty for Trafficking or Attempting to Traffick in cocaine – Large Commercial Quantity is life imprisonment and a maximum fine of 5000 penalty units.

What is a large commercial quantity?

Under section 70 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, a ‘Large Commercial Quantity’ of a drug of dependence is specified in Schedule 11 of the Act. The large commercial quantity for cocaine is 750 grams or 1 kilogram with mixed substances.

What Police Need to Prove

To convict you of Trafficking in cocaine – Large Commercial Quantity, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You intentionally ‘trafficked’ or ‘attempted to traffick’ cocaine; and
  • That the substance was cocaine; and
  • That the substance that was cocaine was of a Large Commercial Quantity.

Possible Defences for Trafficking Cocaine

  • Factual dispute / lack of intent; or
  • You were under duress.

Use Cocaine

Using cocaine is an offence under section 75 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, the maximum penalty is 5 penalty units.

What Constitutes ‘Use’?

Pursuant to section 70(1) of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 ‘use’ in relation to a drug of dependence means:

  • Smoke a drug of dependence;
  • Inhale the fumes caused by heating or burning a drug of dependence; or
  • Introduce a drug of dependence into the body of a person.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of using cocaine, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used or attempted to use cocaine.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

An offence of using cocaine will be heard at the Magistrates’ Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any 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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