Drug Offences – Use of / Possession of a Prohibited Drug

Drug Offences are among the most serious offences in the eyes of the Criminal Law Courts. However, the penalties associated with Drug Offences vary greatly, and under the right circumstances, and with good legal representation, there is great scope for the Courts to be lenient.

Use and Possession of a prohibited drug are the less serious of the criminal charges associated with Prohibited Drugs, however both can attract severe penalties including imprisonment. Supply of a prohibited drug is viewed far more seriously by the Courts and often attracts harsher penalties.

Penalties – Use of a Prohibited Drug

The maximum penalties for using a prohibited drug are a fine of up to $2,200 and/or 2 years imprisonment if resolved in the Local Court. In many cases, particularly if the amount of the drug in question was relatively small, these penalties may not be imposed, but the offender may be placed on a good behaviour bond, with or without conviction. Drug rehabilitation programs may also be recommended by the Court.

Penalties – Possession of a Prohibited Drug

As a rule, the greater the quantity of the drug in question, the harsher the penalty. Being in possession of 1 or 2 ecstasy pills will most likely be dealt with by way of a section 10 bond – without conviction.  However, being in possession of larger quantities attracts more serious penalties.

The major consideration in determining sentences when there is a substantial amount of prohibited drugs is the intended use of those drugs. The intention of personal use usually attracts lesser penalties than the intention to supply, which includes distributing amongst friends for free. Possession of a prohibited drug carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $2,200 and/or 2 years imprisonment is resolved in the Local Court. Where the amount of prohibited drug in question is in the trafficable category or beyond, the matter will proceed to the District Court as a ‘deemed’ supply offence.


If you have been charged with use, possession or supply of a prohibited drug, there may be someDefences

legal defences available to you. These include, for example:

  • Duress: You may have been forced to use, possess or supply a prohibited drug by another person’s threats, violence or other coercion.
  • Honest and reasonable mistake: You also may not have been aware that the substance you were taking was a prohibited drug.


In cases where more than one person has been alleged to have used or be in possession of prohibited drugs, you may be able to prove that you were not one of them, but that the police made certain assumptions on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

In some cases, it may be in your interests to plead guilty to the charges to urge the Court to take a lenient approach.

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