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Drug Offences in Queensland (QLD)

The information on this webpage is to be read in conjunction with this disclaimer:
Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.

Drug Offences in Queensland subsumes lots of actions, activity and substances related to drug use in Queensland. It also includes all other related offences that occurred as a result of the drug offence. If you are convicted of a drug offence, especially of larger quantities, the court will sentence you under any of these Legislations;

Drug Offences are more severe when it is a Schedule 1 drug that is used. These serious offences (drugs) are;

  • Cocaine,
  • Heroin,
  • Amphetamines,
  • LSD,
  • Ecstasy.

The Schedule 2 drugs are considered under less serious drug offences, and they include;

  • Morphine,
  • Cannabis,
  • Barbiturates

Where there is a court conviction, Drug offences will in most circumstances appear on an individual's Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

What are the categories of drug offences under the law?

The Categories for the Drug Offences accounts for behaviours, actions, participation or other forms of involvement in a drug offence. The Court will impose punishments up to the maximum penalties stated by the law for any categories/offences it finds you guilty of.

The Offence of Drug Possession

Under Section 13 of the Drug Misuse Act 1986, it is an offence to possess a drug unless it was legally prescribed by a physician. You don't have to be caught or seen with the drug before you are charged with possession. The legislation also states that a Drug possession offence is committed where;

  • The person knows of its existence and is exercising control over it. They must also know, or have reason to suspect, that the substance is a drug.
  • The drug is not in the person’s physical possession (such as in their bags, or wallets); it is sufficient in an area under their control such as their house or car.
  • More than one person can be in possession of drug offences in Queensland. For example, a person who knows, or has reason to suspect, that there are drugs in a shared house in which they live can face charges for drug possession even though they belong to another person in the house.
  • You can be "in possession" of a drug even if they didn't buy it, haven't used it, and don't intend to use it.

In summary, the prosecutor has to prove three things to the court; that the accused;

  • Knew that the drug was illegal,
  • Had custody of the drug,
  • Had control over where the drug is kept.

Penalties for Drug Possession

  1. Possession of a drug (for your personal use and with no intent to sell) can be heard as a summary offence in Queensland.

Maximum penalty: $11,800 (100 penalty units) and/or 3 years imprisonment.

  1. If the police choose to prosecute you on indictment in the District or Supreme Court, you will face a maximum penalty of $590,000 (5,000 penalty units) and/or, 15 years imprisonment.
  2. If you are caught with larger quantities, the law stipulates penalties between;

$590,000 in fines and/or, 25 years to life imprisonment sentencing

The offence of Supply and Trafficking of Drugs

Moving or exchanging prohibited drugs for another commodity, especially in larger quantities is a serious offence.

The offences of supply not only occur when the action happens. It involves;

  • Offering or agreeing to supply, even if no deal ever takes place;
  • Being knowingly concerned in supply; introducing someone to a dealer;
  • Supplying a legal substance which you claim is a dangerous drug, for example, selling aspirin and passing it off as heroin;
  • Helping someone else take a drug;
  • Pooling money and splitting up purchased drugs between the group of buyers;
  • Having drugs in your possession for supply.

Other charges can be attributed to supply even when money is not involved, or there was no actual supply.

  • Scoring on behalf of a person or
  • Sharing gears

Aggravated supply is a much more serious offence, and occurs where the supply occurred;

  • In a school or educational institution;
  • In a jail;
  • To a child;
  • To an intellectually disabled person;
  • To someone who doesn't know what they are taking (for example you slip someone a dangerous drug by spiking their drink)

Penalties the Law stipulates;

The Law stipulates penalties depending on the drug you supplied or attempted to.

  1. Supplying/Trafficking of Schedule 1 drugs attract maximum penalties of;

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 20 years imprisonment

  1. For aggravated offences:

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or, 25 years imprisonment.

  1. Supplying any other dangerous drug: Maximum penalty:

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 15 years imprisonment

  1. For an aggravated offence:

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 20 years imprisonment.

However, if the court concludes that you had no intent to make money off the supply, it may treat the offence as a summary offence. The Law stipulates penalties of;

$11,800 (100 penalty units.) and/or, 3 years imprisonment

Offences of Production/Manufacturing and Cultivation of Drugs

Section 8 of the Drug Misuse Act 1986 proposes severe fines for anyone guilty of cultivation/manufacture or production of illegal substances in Queensland (QLD).

The offence of Cultivation includes;

  • Planting the seeds,
  • Growing them in another property
  • Nurturing and Looking after them
  • Allowing your properties to be used for such acts
  • Financing such acts

Production/manufacturing includes:

  • Supplying any of the elements used even when you knew it was used for
  • Preparing the drugs
  • Packaging
  • Financing the operations
  • Attempting to produce (caught with raw materials and equipment)
  • Partaking directly or passively in any of the acts listed.

Penalties the law proposes

  • If you are guilty of producing/manufacturing schedule 1 drugs in large quantities, the court can issue penalties up to;

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 25 years imprisonment

  • For Production or manufacture of other drugs, the court issues penalties up to;

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 20 years imprisonment

If the court does not find a commercial purpose for the production the maximum penalty is;

$11,800 (100 penalty units.) and/or 3 years imprisonment if tried summarily in the Local Court

Aggravating Offences

The court will issue stiffer penalties where there was an aggravating circumstance. A general aggravating circumstance is these drug offences are committed close to children (under 18 years).

In such cases, the minors are never blamed nor be a defendant (offender) and receive any punishments the court issues to other offenders.

Other aggravating circumstances are Drug offences involving;

  • An intellectually impaired person
  • A person without their knowledge
  • An educational institution
  • A correctional centre

Penalties for Aggravated offences

Where the court feels there was an aggravating circumstance, including those not listed, it issues penalties up to;

$590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 25 years-life imprisonments.,

Proceeds of Crime

The Drugs Misuse Act 1986 also records an offence for possessing the proceeds of the crime. It doesn't matter whether they were gifts or goods. You may also be convicted of this offence if you try to hide the fact that such property was connected to the proceeds of the crime

The court imposes penalties up to; $590,000 (5,000 penalty units.) and/or 20 years of imprisonment.

Minor Drug offences and Diversionary programs

The Police or the courts may decide against convicting you of a drug offence if it was a lesser offence. In such cases, you will get a diversionary program instead of a conviction, and it does not show up in your police check.

The legislation for diversionary programs on Drug offences is governed by the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 and S. 379 and S. 791 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

You may be eligible for a diversion programme if;

  • Found in possession of 50 grams or less of cannabis;
  • You are "in possession" of paraphernalia like a pipe or bong, intended to be used or has been used to administer (smoke or ingest) cannabis.
  • You don’t have a conviction for another drug offence or a violent crime.
  • You admitted to possession of the cannabis to be offered a diversion.

The court will also impose lesser penalties in addition to the diversion programs. It is usually not more than $4,720 (40 penalty units)

Penalties for premises to be used for a drug crime

A person is guilty under the law If they own (allow) the property where a drug offence is committed.

You don't need to take part or benefit from the offence; you only have to be aware of the activity and allow it to occur on their premises. The legislation stipulates a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

Some examples of this type of offence are;

  • A landlord letting a tenant grow marijuana or opium poppies in the yard
  • The owner of office space allowing a person to sell drugs from there
  • A body, corporate manager, allowing someone to make amphetamines in a garage in a block of flats.

Police Search Powers

Under Section 18 of the Drug Misuse Act 1986, A Police officer may search premises, property, clothing or other personal properties or residences (with a search warrant) if they suspect on reasonable grounds the person/group are;

  • Holding a prohibited drug or,
  • Plant or,
  • Have possession of anything connected to a drug offence.

They can also request a person's personal information if they believe it will help them in investigating an offence. If the person refuses to cooperate, they can charge the person to court.

The penalty for refusing to provide useful information to the Police is;

  • One-month imprisonment or a fine of up to $750.

Do drug offences appear on nationally coordinated criminal history checks?

Drug offences and convictions are considered serious offences and will show up on a NCCHC police check result where there is a court conviction and no diversionary program.

You can obtain your Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via the Australian National Character Check (ANCC®) website.

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The contents of this website do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice.

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