The laws controlling the constantly evolving drug offences deal with manufacture, possession, distribution, consumption and user related offences.
Drug crimes in Queensland are created in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986. The crimes involve “dangerous drugs” as defined in the Drug Misuse Regulation 1987. This article will give you an overview of those laws.
Some drugs, like LSD, cannot be prescribed by a doctor and are illegal to possess under any circumstances. Other drugs, like amphetamines, can be legally possessed but only if they have been prescribed to you.
The penalties for a drug crime in Queensland depend upon how the drug has been classified. The most serious offences involve dangerous drugs in schedule 1. The schedule 1 drugs that are commonly involved in criminal prosecutions include:
methamphetamine (sometimes known as ice or crystal meth)
MDMA (usually marketed as Ecstacy)
The penalties for crimes involving schedule 2 or 2A drugs are often severe, but they are less harsh than the penalties for crimes involving drugs in schedule 1. Some drugs in schedule 2 or 2A that are commonly involved in criminal prosecutions include:
The unlawful possession of a dangerous drug is a crime. “Unlawful” generally means “without a valid prescription.” Possession generally means that the accused must know of the drug’s existence and must have some control over it. Possession is, therefore, a broader concept than ownership. While the accused must know that the substance is a dangerous drug, the accused is not required to know what kind of dangerous drug the substance might be.
More than one person can possess the same drug. People who are sharing a drug both possess it. However, an amount too small to be seen cannot be possessed.
The maximum sentence for possession ranges from 15 years to 25 years, depending upon the drug and the quantity possessed.
Supplying dangerous drugs
It is a crime to supply a dangerous drug to another person. Supplying a drug includes selling it, but it also includes giving or administering the drug to another person, as well as distributing or delivering it. Money need not be exchanged.
Offering to sell or give a dangerous drug to someone also comes within the definition of supplying the drug. So does transport a dangerous drug.
Depending on the circumstances of the offence and the nature and quantity of the drug, the maximum sentence for supplying a dangerous drug ranges from 15 years to life.
Producing dangerous drugs
Producing a dangerous drug is a crime. Producing means making a drug, but it also includes growing or cultivating a drug like cannabis. Depending on the nature and quantity of the drug, and upon whether the accused is a drug dependent person, the maximum sentence for producing a drug ranges from 15 to 25 years.
Possession of things used in connection with drugs
Sometimes called “drug paraphernalia,” things that are designed to help people use or consume illegal drugs cannot be legally possessed. Marijuana pipes, crack pipes, and syringes are common examples. The maximum sentence for possessing those items is 2 years.
A related but broader law extends beyond drug paraphernalia to include anything used in connection with the commission of a drug crime. A car used to transport drugs or guns used to guard drugs might fall within that definition if they are possessed with the intent to further a drug crime. The maximum sentence for possessing a thing that is used in connection with a drug crime is 15 years. The “thing” that was used can also be forfeited to (taken by) the government.
Publishing or possessing a drug recipe
It is illegal to possess or publish instructions for producing a dangerous drug. Instructions can be possessed simply by downloading them from the internet. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 20 years for schedule 2 drugs and 25 years for schedule 1 drugs.
Prosecutors can elect to charge certain drug crimes as a summary offence. The accused loses certain rights when that happens, but the maximum sentence is limited to 3 years.
A summary offence can generally be charged if the maximum sentence for the crime would otherwise be 15 years. Possession of a dangerous drug can be usually be charged as a summary offence if the drug was not possessed for sale. The supply of a schedule 2 drug can be charged as a summary offence under some circumstances.