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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Drug Offences Drug Offences in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Drug Offences in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    In the ACT, an offender can be charged and convicted of drug offences under the following laws;

    These legislations jointly prohibit the possession, administration, use, trafficking, sale, exchange, control or cultivation of prohibited drugs.

    It is a serious offence if you are caught controlling, or partaking in an illicit drug operation, especially where it is in commercial or large quantities. The various legislations stipulate the maximum punishments for all offenders. And where it overlaps, the court can use its discretion to impose the necessary punishments.

    The severity or type of punishments you get for Drug offences depends on the type or your dealings with the drugs. These include;

    Drug offences for which there is a conviction show up on a police background check in accordance with the Spent Convictions Scheme.

    1. Offences of Drug Possession

    The correct context of drug possession in Drug laws includes;

    • Custody of a prohibited drug and substance
    • Partaking in custody or control
    • Having prohibited drugs in your premises or properties (car)

    Penalties for Drug possession offences;

    The Police can issue a Simple Cannabis Notice depending on the seriousness of the offence. For example, the Police will issue a notice where the offender possessed;

    • Up to 50 grams of Dried cannabis
    • 2 non-artificially cultivated cannabis plants
    • The drug is for personal use

    A simple cannabis offence where a notice is issued attracts $100 that should be paid within 60 days.

    However, if the offender defaults on the payment, a criminal proceeding will commence with penalties of $150 and a criminal conviction.

    Possession of other controlled drugs carries a maximum penalty of;

    • 50 penalty units ($7,500) fines,


    • 2 year's imprisonment.

    1. The offence of Selling a Controlled Plant

    The ACT’s various laws on Drug offences prohibit the public or private exchange of Drugs whether for monetary gains or not.

    A plant is sold under the law if any of the following occurs;

    • it is bartered or exchanged;
    • it is given to someone in the belief that they would do something in return, or
    • the owner or possessor agrees to sell.

    Penalties for Selling a Controlled Plant

    The penalty issued by the court depends on the quantity of the plant sold, and the type of plants.

    • The maximum penalty for selling a cannabis plant is;
    • $45,000 and/or
    • 3 year's imprisonment.
    • For any other controlled plant, the maximum penalty is;
    • $150,000 and/or,
    • 10 year's imprisonment.

    1. The offence of Cultivating a prohibited drug

    Cultivating a Prohibited drug not only requires active farming or planting of the seeds.

    Under Section 615 of the Criminal Code Act 2002; a person has cultivated a prohibited drug by directing, controlling, arranging or providing

    • Planting a seed, seedling or cutting of a plant,
    • Transporting a plant,
    • Tending to grow the plant,
    • Guarding or hiding the plant, or
    • Harvesting the plant.

    Penalties for Cultivating a Prohibited drug

    The act will be treated as a simple cannabis offence if the plant cultivated was a cannabis plant, and you have 1 or 2 plants for personal use. However, for non-cannabis plants or larger quantities, the maximum penalty is;

    • $30,000 in fines, and/or,
    • 2 years imprisonment

    A person can be guilty of the offence of selling even when they did not intend to sell it themselves. It means the Court can find a person guilty of selling a cultivated plant if they expected or contracted another person to sell.

    If the court finds you guilty of cultivating to sell, it can issue penalties up to a life imprisonment term.

    1. Offences of Drug Administration in the ACT

    It is illegal in Australia and specifically in the ACT to administer any drug to a person without authorization. It does not matter if the person is an adult and consented to you administering the drugs to them. It also doesn’t matter whether it was;

    • Drug of dependence,
    • Medicine,
    • Controlled drug,
    • or a Prohibited substance.

    Penalties for Drug Administration in ACT

    The Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 and Criminal Code Act 2002 stipulates maximum punishments of;

    • $15,000 in fines,
    • and/or 1 year’s imprisonment.

    1. Offences of Manufacturing and Precursors

    It is an offence to possess, manufacture, or sell a controlled precursor, and/or, possessing the equipment used in manufacturing the drugs including pill presses.

    Precursors are the raw chemical constituents for making controlled drugs. They are extracted to manufacture the controlled drugs, likely amphetamines.

    Penalties for Manufacturing Precursors

    For offences of Possessing or manufacturing a controlled precursor; the court can impose penalties between;

    • $100,000 to $375,000 in fines,


    • 7 years to 25 years imprisonment.

    It is an offence to sell a controlled precursor, especially if you sell it knowing it is used to manufacture a controlled drug.

    The court can issue penalties from;

    • $105,000 to $375,000 in fines


    • 7 years to 25 years imprisonment.

    1. Offences of supplying a Drug

    It is a serious offence in the ACT to be caught; selling, supplying or controlling such actions in any capacity.

    Penalties for supplying a Drug

    Whether it is a drug of dependence or a prohibited drug, the court will issue penalties up to;

    • $75,000,


    • imprisonment for 5 years.

    1. Offences of Drug Trafficking

    Trafficking of Drugs involves all criminal actions of supplying, selling or transacting drugs in commercial or indictable quantities. As usual, the offender does not have to be actively invested in the act, the law considers drug trafficking under the following action;

    • Selling a controlled drug
    • Preparing a controlled drug for supply
    • Transporting the controlled drug
    • Guarding or concealing the drugs, or
    • Possessing the drug intending to sell it.

    Trafficking of a certain amount of a drug or controlled plant doesn't have to occur all at once. You can be charged with trafficking a greater amount than you did if it is proved that you trafficked the controlled drug or plant more than one time, or repeatedly.

    Penalties of Drug Trafficking

    Schedule 1 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2002 stipulates the following penalties for drug trafficking;

    For Cannabis-related trafficking;

    • $45,000,
    • and/or 3 years to life imprisonment

    For controlled drugs other than cannabis;

    • $150,000,
    • and/or, 10 years to life imprisonment.

    1. Child Protection Laws

    Penalties for Drug offences, including a child or procuring one for the Drug Trafficking range from $5,000 fines, and/or

    5 year’s imprisonment up to life.

    Do drug offences in the ACT show up on a national police check?

    Where the offence results in conviction from the court, the offence will show up on an individual’s police check in the ACT as a disclosable court outcome.

    You can obtain your national police check online from the ANCC website.

    Wrapping Up

    When the court sentences an offender, the harm or impact of the drug matters less. The perceived harm potential of a drug is not relevant to determining which offence you will be charged with (or the quantity you were alleged to traffic).

    A court can consider the motives and aggravating circumstances when sentencing you for an offence, but certain drugs of dependence or controlled drugs are not to be treated as more or less harmful than others.

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