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DRUG OFFENCES - POSSESSION: The Law in Queensland

Offences stemming from the use, possession or otherwise related to drugs are governed by the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld). This legislation provides for a whole multitude of crimes related to illicit substances and the penalties therewith. In Queensland, as is commonplace in the rest of the modern world, drug offences are considered to be on the more serious side of the spectrum, and accordingly, attract quite severe penalties.


Much like the Criminal Code of Canada, Queensland classifies illicit drugs by Schedules. The Drugs Misuse Regulation lays out Dangerous Drugs in Schedules 1-2 and Prescription-only Drugs and Controlled Substances in Schedules 5-6. Generally speaking, stiffer penalties are awarded for offences related to drugs in Schedule 1 than Schedule 2. Schedule 1 contains “hard drugs” such as heroin, lysergic acid, amphetamines (including “ice”), MDMA “molly” and cocaine. On the other hand, Schedule 2 contains opiates, “Oxy’s”, marijuana and fentanyl.


Contrary to popular belief, it is not only the supply of illicit drugs that is criminalized. The mere possession of scheduled substances is a crime. The term “possession” encompasses more than the layman would assume. The Criminal Code Act 1899 of Queensland, in section 1, defines possession to include:


“..having under control in any place whatever, whether for the use or benefit of the person of whom the term is used or of another person, and although another person has the actual possession or custody of the thing in question.”


From the above definition, it is evident that the offence of possession in this context can be made out even if the drug is physically not on your person. This can prove to be tricky in cases where an offender has not even seen or paid for the drugs yet. The problems related to making out of the elements of possession are especially true in cases where an individual inhabits the same dwelling house, knowing that another individual has illicit drugs on the property.


Fun Fact: You can be charged in Queensland for the possession of drug paraphernalia even if you have no drugs on you. It is sufficient for the purposes of the criminal justice system that the object or device was used at some point in the past or will be used for a drug offence. Yes, this includes items such as a smoking pipe or a cocaine straw.


Penalties for this offence vary depending on the Court that a drug possession charge is dealt with in Queensland, however, is generally limited to a maximum of 3 years imprisonment for proceedings in the Magistrates Court. It must be noted that the above is an absolute maximum penalty in circumstances that warrant the harshest of reprimand, as judged by the Court. There also exist alternate resolutions such as fines and intensive correctional orders. They are not uncommon and may be expected in cases where the charges are in relation to very minor quantities of recreational drugs. However, these resolutions are not available to all and come with very stringent requirements on the offender to maintain good behavior. By absolutely no means are they a “get out of jail free” card.


It is important to remember that drug offences are a serious thing. This can be exemplified by the highest possible penalties related to possession being a period of imprisonment for 25 years and 20 years respectively, for Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 drugs.



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