Drug offences

There are numerous offences you can be charged with in relation to illegal drugs.

The penalties vary according to the type and amount of drugs involved; however, drug offences are taken very seriously and carry severe penalties.

Schedule 1 drugs (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD and ecstasy) carry greater penalties than schedule 2 drugs (e.g. cannabis, morphine and barbiturates). For example, supplying heroin carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail; whereas supplying cannabis has a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The amount of drugs involved in the offence is a significant factor. For example, being found with a small amount of cannabis for personal use is regarded far more leniently than possession of multiple bags intended for sale.

Possessing illegal drugs

Possession is not the same as owning the drug. You can be in possession of a drug even if you did not buy it or have not used it. For example, if you know there are drugs in your share house, you can be charged with possession even if they belong to someone else.

Supplying illegal drugs

Supply is a wide legal term and can include:

  • giving, distributing, selling, administering or transporting drugs
  • offering to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply drugs
  • preparing to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply drugs.

Just giving one of your pills to a friend is an offence and you can be charged with supply.

As well as the type and quantity of drugs involved, other factors are considered when evaluating the seriousness of a supply offence, such as if you were involved with supplying drugs to a child or near a school.

If you know of a drug dealer in your area report them to police immediately.

Trafficking illegal drugs

Trafficking is carrying on the business of supplying drugs as part of a commercial operation. This usually involves larger amounts of drugs, several acts of supply, or evidence of an organised business supplying drugs.

Cultivating or producing illegal drugs

This covers the growing, preparing, manufacturing, packaging and production of drugs. It does not just mean operating a meth lab or a hydroponic cannabis cultivation system; it includes simply growing a cannabis plant for your own use in your backyard.

Publishing or possessing a recipe for producing a dangerous drug

If you publish instructions on, or own a document containing instructions on, how to produce a dangerous drug, you are committing a crime.

Just downloading a recipe for crystal meth from the internet could result in 25 years in jail.

Possessing things (drug paraphernalia)

This includes things used to take drugs (e.g. a bong, cocaine spoon, pipe or syringes) or things used to produce drugs (e.g. scales, hydroponic cultivation equipment or a pill press) if they have been used for a drug offence or are intended to be used for a drug offence. So you can be charged with possession of a bong, without actually being charged with possession of marijuana.

Permitting a place to be used for a drug offence

If you own or manage a property and allow it to be used for a drug offence you are committing a crime carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail. It does not matter whether or not you are directly benefiting financially from allowing the property to be used for the offence. You are therefore committing an offence if you allow a tenant to grow marijuana plants in the back yard.

Drug labs—clandestine drug laboratories (clan labs)

Drug labs pose a risk to the safety and security of all Queenslanders. The ingredients used to produce illegal drugs are highly toxic, flammable, and incredibly dangerous. Drug labs can ignite, explode and emit harmful gases that can cause serious health problems, which can be life threatening.

If you know of a drug lab in your area report it to police immediately.

Drug driving

Drugs have been identified as a contributing factor in a significant number of fatal road accidents in Queensland. From December 2007 the police have been able to undertake random roadside saliva testing for illegal drugs including cannabis, speed, crystal meth and ecstasy.

If any trace of illegal drugs are found in your system while you are in charge of a vehicle—you do not even have to be the driver—the court can impose a fine of up to $1,400 and you could lose your licence for up to 9 months for a first offence.

Find out more about drug driving and roadside drug testing.

Police drug diversion program

The drug diversion program offers people arrested for a minor drugs offence—for example, the possession of a personal use quantity of a dangerous drug—with an opportunity to receive professional help to quit using drugs, rather than going through the normal court process and getting a criminal record.

Find out more about the police drug diversion program.

More information