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Prohibited Drugs

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Prohibited Drug Charges

Prohibited drug offences are a common reason why many people find themselves before the courts.   Drug charges carry significant fines and lengthy gaol sentences. Whether it be a drug possession charge or drug supply charge.  NSW Courts take these offences very seriously.

In recent years there has also been an increase in the methods and ways in which police and other law enforcement agencies detect and investigate drug possession and drug supply offences. This includes things like using drug detection dogs, undercover operations and surveillance devices. As a result, the detection and prosecution of prohibited drug offences has seen an increase in recent years.

Common prohibited drugs and quantities

Drug Type Small quantity Trafficable quantity Indictable quantity Commercial quantity Large Commercial quantity
Amphetamine 1 gram 3 grams 5 grams 250 grams 500 grams
Cannabis leaf 30 grams 300 grams 1kg 25kg 100kg
Cannabis plant N/A 5 plants 50 plants 250 plants/50 plants (if cultivated by enhanced indoor means) 200 plants/1000 plants (if cultivated by enhanced indoor means)
Cocaine 1 gram 3 grams 5 grams 250 grams 1 kg
Ketamine 2.5 grams 7.5 grams 12.5 grams 1.25 kg 5 kg
LSD 0.0008 gram 0.003 gram 0.005 gram 0.0005 kg 0.002 kg
MDMA 0.25 gram 0.75 gram 1.25 gram 125 grams 500 grams
Methylamphetamine 1 gram 3 grams 5 grams 250 grams 500 grams

Types of drug charges in NSW

​In NSW the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 creates offences and penalties for offences relating to prohibited drugs. The penalties for drug charges  depend on the type of offence as well as the quantity of prohibited drugs . Below are some of the different types of offences and their penalties:

  • Drug possession – up to $2,200 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment
  • Drug supply – up to $5.5m fine and/or imprisonment for life
  • Manufacturing a prohibited drug – up to $5.5m fine and/or imprisonment for life
  • Cultivating a prohibited plant – up to $6.6m fine and/or imprisonment for 24 years.

Types of drugs and their weight

The quantity of a prohibited drug affects the applicable charges and penalties. Weight amounts for illicit drugs fall into five different categories

  • Small quantity
  • Traffickable quantity
  • Indictable quantity
  • Commercial quantity
  • Large commercial quantity.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with a drug offence?

​Convictions for drug charges can be devastating. It can affect and limit your employment prospects and can even prevent you from travelling to some countries. Therefore, attending court for any drug offence, requires proper and experienced legal representation. The most common drug charge is “possession of a prohibited drug”. In most cases police will hand you a yellow slip called a ‘Field court attendance notice’. This sets out the date and location of the court you need to attend. They may also give you a ‘written notice of pleading’. If you find yourself in this position it is important to seek advice from a specialist criminal lawyer immediately. Astor Legal offer a free consultation where we can explain the penalties, procedure, and what we can do to ensure you get the best result at court.

Prohibited drug case studies

  • No conviction and no bond for 10 MDMA capsules

    Our client was a 25 year old female who was charged with possession of a prohibited drug, namely 1.35 grams of MDMA. The client had just purchased the MDMA from a dial a dealer service and stepped out of the car, only to be greeted by police. Our client participated in two rehabilitative programs we recommended, and we assisted her in the preparation of thorough subjective material. Ultimately, the Magistrate not only acquiesced to our request to deal with the matter by way of non-conviction order, but recognised that specific deterrence had been met so heavily that the imposition of a bond or conditional release order would serve no purpose and unconditionally discharged our client.

  • Third non conviction for possession of a prohibited drug

    Our client had received the benefit of leniency of the court in the form of non-conviction orders twice for offences relating to alcohol and he had two other serious and significant offences on his criminal record.

    When he was stopped by police after purchasing 2g of cocaine from a dial-a-dealer service, it was almost certain that he’d be convicted for possessing this quantity of the drug.

    In preparing for the matter, we identified a discernible theme in our clients offending history. Almost all of the offences on our client’s criminal record involved alcohol. That is, that whenever the offences had been committed, alcohol had been involved.

    Once this was recognised and acknowledged, we were able to prepare our client and have him engage in relevant programs which sought to address his decision making after a drink. The matter was an uphill battle in the courtroom too, but after a lengthy conversation with the magistrate regarding the positive steps the client had taken, deterrence and the impact of a conviction, the magistrate acceded to our ultimate submission that this matter too could appropriately be dealt with by way of non-conviction order.