Possession of dangerous drugs in Queensland

In Queensland it is an offence to possess a prohibited drug.

It is illegal to possess any drug listed on Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation, which includes:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • methlyamphetamine (commonly known as ice, or crystal meth)
  • phencyclidine (commonly known as angel dust)
  • lysergide (commonly known as LSD)
  • methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy)
  • paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA)—(drugs sometimes sold as ecstasy but more powerful)
  • all anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents
  • cannabis
  • morphine
  • pethidine
  • ketamine

Possession versus Ownership

It doesn’t matter if it is a minor offence, or a very serious charge; if you are being investigated, or have been arrested and need to appear in Court, you need to get advice early from an experienced criminal defence lawyer who knows how the police and prosecutors work.

Don’t risk getting the best outcome for yourself and your loved ones.  An experienced criminal defence lawyer will increase your chances of achieving the best outcome for your matter.

Possession isn’t the same as ownership. You can be in possession of a drug even if you don’t own it and haven’t used it. For example, if you know there are drugs in your share house the law says they’re in your possession even if they belong to someone else.

Section 129(1)(c) in the Drugs Misuse Act has the effect of deeming all people who occupy a house to be in possession of any drug found in the house unless they can show that they didn’t know and had no reason to suspect that the drugs were there.

Possession is about knowledge and control of the drug in question – the prosecution must prove that a person knew of the existence of the substance and it is within their physical control.

This provision also applies if drugs are found in a car – all of the people in the car at the time can be charged with possessing the drugs.

Drug diversion for minor drug charges

There are two kinds of drug diversion available in Queensland.

  1.  Police drug diversion

If police arrest someone in possession of a small quantity of cannabis (less than 50 grams) or an implement that has been used to smoke cannabis the police officer MUST offer the offender an opportunity to attend a drug diversion assessment program instead of charging them with a criminal offence in certain circumstances. This is obviously a much better outcome than going to Court as it means there is no criminal conviction for the offence whatsoever. The following conditions have to be met for the drug diversion to be offered:

  • The person must not have also been arrested for another indictable offence associated with the minor drug offence – for example, burglary of a home to obtain the money to buy the drugs.
  • The person must not have been offered drug diversion before.
  • The person must admit to possessing the drugs or smoking implement in an electronically recorded interview.
  • The person must not have any criminal history for violence.
  • The person must not have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment before for drug trafficking, supplying drugs or producing drugs.
  1. Court ordered drug diversion

This type of drug diversion is available to people who commit minor drug crimes and have never had any kind of drug diversion before, or have had police or Court drug diversion once before. Court ordered drug diversion is available for a much wider range of minor drug offences, including possessing small quantities of schedule 1 drugs like cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and speed.

If a person is eligible for Court ordered drug diversion and the Magistrate thinks it is appropriate, they are sentenced to a good behaviour bond that includes a condition that they attend a Drug Assessment and Education Session. No conviction is recorded.

Drug Possession Penalties

The maximum penalty applicable for possession is dependent upon the quantity of drugs involves. The table below summarises the maximum penalties for possession of cocaine, amphetamines or MDMA (Ecstasy):

Up to 2.0 grams 2.0 grams to 200g 200 grams or more
Maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and or fines Maximum penalty of 20 – 25 years of imprisonment dependent upon circumstances and/or fines Maximum penalty of 25 years of imprisonment and/or fines

The maximum amount you can be fined is dependent upon which Court you are summonsed to appear in.

Current as at November 2016

*This fact sheet is for information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Contact Kahler Lawyers for more detailed legal advice on Drug Possession.