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Criminal Law and Drug Offences

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Understanding drug offences can be a difficult and daunting process. Laws have changed a lot in the years and society’s attitudes towards and understanding of drugs is constantly changing as well. If you face a charge for something, you might feel unsure about what the consequences are. Today we are going to talk about drug offences and what are considered controlled drugs and illegal drugs. If you think you may be facing drug offences, contact Jameson Law today!

What is the controlled drug legislation in NSW?

Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act of 1985.

In New South Wales, drug laws are primarily governed by the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act of 1985. This legislation categorizes a broad range of controlled substances. Naming them ‘prohibited drugs,’ or what is a border controlled drug. Possession of too much of it could be considered a serious drug offence. They intend to ‘prohibit plants’ such as cannabis, opium, and coca. The Act outlines various offences, including the use, possession, supply, and trafficking of prohibited drugs, with the severity of the offence depending on how much of the drug is involved. Prohibited activities also encompass the cultivation, possession, and manufacture of prohibited plants, as well as aiding other people with their drug related offences. The prohibited drugs are explicitly listed in a schedule, encompassing familiar substances like cannabis (marijuana), heroin, ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, cocaine, and methadone.

Additionally, synthetic drugs fall under legal scrutiny through a combination of The Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act of 1996 and the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act of 1985. You could be in trouble for not only the drugs themselves but for having the controlled precursors that help make the drugs. More than just that, The Commonwealth Criminal Code, a federal law applicable across Australia, including New South Wales, plays a role in preventing the import and export of prohibited drugs, listing offences similar to those outlined in the NSW Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act of 1985. Commonwealth Criminal Code offences also extend to dealing with imported drugs after they enter the country.

Supplying illegal drugs and maximum penalties

Drug supply is one of the more serious drug charges Engaging in the supply of drugs is one of the most serious drug possession charges and can result in a criminal record for you. In New South Wales, Marijuana or Cannabis is a controlled drug. As one of the controlled drugs, supplying marijuana, particularly in commercial quantities, can lead to some serious run-ins with the criminal justice system. The maximum penalty for supplying drugs can be quite high. The legislation for this drug offence can be found in the NSW Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.

In New South Wales, if you get caught growing or making drugs, how much trouble you’re in depends on how much of it you have. Let’s say you grow 50 marijuana plants – the maximum penalty you might have to pay is $220,000 or go to jail for 10 years. But if you grow a lot more, like 1,000 marijuana plants or 200 plants using special equipment, the maximum penalty is much higher! It can be a maximum penalty of a fine of $550,000 and maybe going to jail for twice as long because you have these drugs in commercial quantities. Here’s another example: making 5 grams of ecstasy tablets could mean a maximum penalty of a $220,000 fine and 15 years in jail. But if you make a whole lot more, like 2 kilograms, which is considered to be a commercial quantity, then the maximum penalty is way higher – $550,000, and you could be in jail for life. So, the point is, that the more drugs you’re involved with, the bigger the problems you could face. It’s really important to know, and understand what is considered a commercial quantity, and follow the drug laws in New South Wales to avoid serious legal consequences.

What are the maximum amounts of controlled drugs?

If you’re caught with a substantial amount of drugs, the police might assume you intended to sell them rather than use them personally. Even if you claim they were for personal use, the court could automatically consider it as ‘deemed supply’ if the drug quantity exceeds a specific limit. This limit, known as the ‘trafficable quantity,’ depends on the drug involved. For instance:

These are all border controlled drugs, and in such large amounts are considered to be a ‘dangerous drug’ by the authorities. In extreme cases, possession of these border controlled drugs may result in serious drug offences, because it will be assumed that either you helped to manufacture controlled drugs, or that you were planning to sell the controlled drug in commercial quantities.

  • Cannabis (leaf or heads): 300 grams

  • Cocaine: 3 grams

  • Ecstasy (MDMA): 0.75 grams

  • Heroin: 3 grams

  • LSD: 0.003 grams or 15 tabs

What can an expert drug lawyer do for your drug offence?

Imagine you’re pulled over for a routine traffic stop in New South Wales, and during a search of your vehicle, the police discover a quantity of a controlled substance. This discovery leads to you being charged with drug possession, an offence that could potentially have serious consequences. In such a scenario, a drug lawyer in New South Wales can play a crucial role in helping you navigate the legal process. Here’s how:

Legal Advice and Assessment: A drug lawyer will assess the details of your case, including the circumstances of the arrest, the type and quantity of the substance found, and any potential issues with the search or arrest procedures. They’ll provide you with legal advice tailored to your situation, explaining the charges against you and the potential consequences.

Defences and Mitigation: A skilled drug lawyer will identify any possible defences available to challenge the charges. This could include questioning the legality of the search, challenging the evidence presented, or exploring a police drug diversion program that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Additionally, they may work to mitigate the potential penalties by presenting compelling arguments in your favour.

Legal Procedures and Court Representation: Navigating the legal system can be complex, and a drug lawyer will guide you through the necessary legal procedures. They will represent you in court, presenting a strong defence on your behalf. This includes negotiating with prosecutors for potential reductions in charges or penalties.

Understanding the Legal System: A drug lawyer brings a deep understanding of New South Wales’ legal system and its nuances. They can interpret complex legal statutes and precedents, ensuring that your case is handled by the law.

Protecting Your Rights: Your lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. This includes making sure that evidence was obtained legally, advising you on what to say to a police officer or not say to law enforcement, and ensuring fair treatment throughout the legal proceedings.

Remember, being charged with a drug offence can be a stressful and challenging experience, but having a knowledgeable and experienced drug lawyer, like one of the criminal defence lawyers at Jameson Law, can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.


life imprisonment is incredibly unlikely for most drug offences in Australia. The possibility only exists for trying to supply over a kilogram of hard drugs like Cocaine or heroin.

The Drug Court in New South Wales is a specialized judicial initiative focused on breaking the cycle of drug addiction and criminal behaviour. Think of it as a drug treatment centre for those who need help. There are three drug courts in New South Wales, in Paramatta, Sydney and the Central Coast.

An offender can be referred to the Drug Court if they:

  • Plead Guilty

    • Have a serious drug problem

    • Agree to the program

    • have been charged with an offence which is ‘highly likely’ to lead to a jail sentence.

The Drug Court in New South Wales helps people who have problems with drugs and do some wrong things but not violent ones. It's a special court that aims to break the cycle of drug addiction and bad behaviour. If you got in trouble for drugs and it wasn't a violent thing, you can choose to join this court. They use a helpful approach, like counselling and treatment, to help you deal with drug issues. You'll be closely watched, and they'll check how you're doing in court regularly. If you do well, you might get rewards, but if not, there are consequences to help you stay on track. If you finish the program successfully, your punishment might be less or even go away. The court believes in community support and always tries to get better at helping people.

Without proper legal representation, individuals may face unfair treatment, difficulties navigating the legal system, and challenges in resolving legal issues. Adequate funding for aid is essential to ensure equal access to justice and protect the rights of all Australians.


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