What drug offences are criminal in Queensland?

As far as drug law is concerned in Australia, Queensland has some of the toughest legislation and subsequent penalties. Here, we break down the different types of drug offences in Queensland, the parties involved and what you can do if you're accused of a drug related offence.

What constitutes a drug offence?

There are many different drug-related activities that can be considered offences in Queensland. These offences are categorised as follows, each ranging in severity with different penalties.

1. Possession

Though at face value drug possession sounds like a straightforward offence, the reality is that it's often complex. In essence, possession involves a person or party receiving and controlling a drug. For possession to be considered, the accused doesn't necessarily need to be aware that the substance in question is in fact an illegal drug. Beyond this definition, however, there are many different factors that can be considered possession. You don't have to be the owner or user of a drug to be charged with posession. Even if you have no intention of consuming it and are simply holding it for a friend, under Queensland law you can be charged for possession.

A possession charge isn't limited to drugs being held on your person – it can include any illegal substances that are found in places related to you, such as in your house or hidden in your car. If you're living in a flatting or social living situation with someone who is holding or using drugs, you may be liable for possession charges in some circumstances. The severity of a penalty for possession varies based on the amount of the drug being held, and what schedule the substance is classified as. Under the Drugs Misuse Regulations 1987 (Qld), there are two categories of dangerous drugs.

Schedule one includes – but isn't limited to – the following drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Acid (LSD)
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Methamphetamine

Alternatively, schedule two commonly involves:

  • Cannabis
  • Opium
  • Barbituates
  • Tranquilizers or benzodiazepines

Offences relating to drugs classified under schedule one often incur harsher penalties due to the seriousness of the substances. Possession also involves holding or owning drug paraphernalia, including syringes and cocaine spoons. Even if these items haven't been in direct contact with an illegal substance – for example, if you're caught with a syringe but no substances are on the property – you can still be charged if it's determined that it was to be used for that purpose.

Cocaine spoon and syringeA possession charge can include holding paraphernalia relating to drug use – even if they haven't been in contact with substances.

2. Supplying

One of the biggest misconceptions about a supplying charge is that it always involves money. The reality is that the simple exchange of drugs can be classified as supplying, even if you aren't gaining anything from the transaction. Furthermore, a drug doesn't even need to be physically given in order for a supply charge to be given – merely offering drugs can leave you liable. In general, supplying includes the selling, distributing and administering of drugs, or preparing to do any of the aforementioned.

Penalties relating to supplying differ depending on the volume of substances supplied, if a profit was turned, or more importantly, the circumstances of the receiving party. Supplying to minors, or those with intellectual disabilities can result in incredibly serious penalties. Additionally, supplying someone with a drug without their knowledge is considered an aggravated offence – if you are accused of a crime of this nature, it's imperative to reach out to Russo Lawyers to assist with your case. 

EcstacyYou don't have to turn a profit to be charged with supplying.

3. Trafficking

Though similar to supplying, drug trafficking is considered to be a commercial act, usually with an organised operation or business involved. For a drug offence to be classified as trafficking, there must be a profit involved with the operation. It's important to note, however, that trafficking isn't always a large scale deal – buying drugs to sell onto friends can fall under this offence. As trafficking often incurs some form of gain, charges for trafficking may result in harsher penalties than supplying.

4. Importing

While importing and exporting drugs internationally is still considered trafficking, crimes of this scale are considered to be Commonwealth offences. Set out in both the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), importing and exporting illegal substances can result in life sentences depending on the severity.

Prison wireImporting and exporting drugs internationally is a Commonwealth offence, and can have major consequences.

5. Producing

Drug production is a serious offence, no matter the volume. Penalties can be given for major and perceivably minor production offences – whether you're involved in a large scale production of methamphetamine, or you have one marijuana plant in your garden, you can still be liable. Even if you aren't the owner or operator of the production means, you can still face charges for assisting in the process.

As aforementioned, offences involving drugs can incur great consequences. If you're accused of a drug offence, it's crucial to reach out to expert lawyers for advice. From small personal possession charges to offences involving supply on a mass scale, the team at Russo Lawyers have an unrivaled reputation and experience in successful representation of those accused. For more information on how our team can help you seek a favourable outcome for your case, reach out to us with our free initial phone consultation.

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