Hi, I’m John, solicitor, and reviewing your post, and may need to ask a few questions a long the way to assist you.
There are a large number of offenses you can be charged with in connection with 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.
Possession of 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.
Trafficking illegal drugs
Trafficking is the supply of drugs as part of an illegal 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 back yard.
Publish or possess a recipe for the production of 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.
Possession of 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.
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 small amount of cannabis—with an opportunity to receive professional help to quit using drugs, rather than going through the normal court process and getting a criminal record.
The Drug Court
The Queensland Government committed to reinstating a Drug Court in 2016. The Drug and Alcohol Court started in Brisbane on 29 January 2018. The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) now allows Queensland courts to make a drug and alcohol treatment order (a treatment order) for less serious drug offences. The purpose of a treatment order is to facilitate the rehabilitation of offenders by providing a judicially supervised treatment regime aimed at reducing substance abuse, associated criminal activity and health risks and integrating offenders into the community.
A treatment order involves a custodial part and a treatment part. The treatment part requires the court to sentence the offender to imprisonment and then suspend the sentence for an operational period of between two to five years. During this time, the offender must not commit an offence. If the offender does commit an offence during the operational period, the court may make a range of orders including revoking the treatment order, so that the offender has to serve the whole or part of the sentence of imprisonment, or extend the operational period of the treatment order. The rehabilitation part requires the offender to comply with a treatment program and reporting, visitation, and other orders similar to a probation order. The treatment program may include participation in medical, psychiatric or psychological treatment, residential detoxification programs, wearing a drug and alcohol detection device and participation in counselling, educational or employment programs. The Drug and Alcohol Court closely supervises treatment orders through regular court dates. The Brisbane Drug and Alcohol Court will be reviewed in 2023, after which time expansion of the service to regional areas may be considered.
The Magistrates Court
Legal advice to determine whether the matter can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court should be obtained by a person who is charged with a drug offence. It is preferable to have the matter dealt with by the Magistrates Court rather than the District or Supreme Court because in the latter courts the risk of custody is greater.
The following offences (or attempts to commit such offences) in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) (Drugs Misuse Act) can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court if the person, on conviction of the offence, is not liable to more than 15 years imprisonment (s 13 Drugs Misuse Act):
- supplying dangerous drugs (s 6)
- receiving or possessing property obtained from trafficking or supplying (in certain circumstances) (s 7)
- producing dangerous drugs (s 8)
- possessing dangerous drugs (s 9)
- possessing, supplying or producing relevant substances or things (ss 9A–9C)
- possessing things (s 10(1))
- permitting use of place (s 11)
- being party to offences committed outside Queensland (s 12).
In addition, a person charged with possession of a dangerous drug, who is liable on conviction to more than 15 years imprisonment, may still have the charge dealt with in the Magistrates Court if the prosecution does not allege that the possession of the drug was for a commercial purpose (s 14 Drugs Misuse Act).
Persons prosecuted summarily under these offence provisions are liable, on conviction, to not more than three years imprisonment (ss 13(4), 14(3) Drugs Misuse Act). Whether or not indictable charges are dealt with summarily is at the election of the prosecution (s 118(2) Drugs Misuse Act). A magistrate may decide not to determine a charge (s 118(4) Drugs Misuse Act) including if the magistrate considers that the charge is too serious and may require a sentence of longer than three years.
Trafficking offences can only be dealt with in the District or Supreme courts.
What happens when a person is charged with an eligible drug offence? • The offender attends a Court that is a Drug Diversion Court. Drug Diversion Courts will be any Queensland Magistrates Court or, if the person is under the age of 17 years, any Queensland Childrens Court. • The Court Diversion Officer or Legal Aid Duty Solicitor identifies and talks with eligible offenders about diversion. • The matter is heard in Court and the Court Diversion Officer informs the Court of the offender’s eligibility for attending a Drug Assessment and Education Session. • If eligible, and if the Magistrate deems it appropriate, the offender is placed on a recognisance order with a condition of attending a Drug Assessment and Education Session. If the offender is a child, the hearing will be adjourned and the child will be given the opportunity to attend a Drug Assessment and Education Session. • Once the offender attends all of the assessment and education session with a nominated health service provider, the order ends. No conviction is recorded. • If the offender does not attend the assessment and education session, the recognisance order will have been breached and the offender will be returned to Court to be sentenced for the original offence.
What are the eligibility criteria? A person is eligible to be offered the opportunity to attend a Drug Assessment and Education Session if they: • Are charged with an eligible drug offence • Admit guilt to the offence • Have not previously been convicted of (or are currently facing) charges of a sexual nature, violent offences or a drug offence dealt with on indictment • Have been offered a diversion on no more than one occasion
What is an eligible drug offence? • An eligible drug offence is an offence under Section 9 and 10(2) of the (Drugs Misuse Act 1986) of unlawfully having possession of a dangerous drug if the illict drug is named in the (Penalties and Sentences Regulations) and possession of anything used in connection with the administration, consumption or smoking of a dangerous drug or used in connection with such a purpose. • For each dangerous drug mentioned in the charge the quantity of the substances containing the dangerous drug is less than the prescribed quantity in relation to the dangerous drug in the Penalties and Sentences Regulations; and • The Court considers the dangerous drug or drugs were for the person’s personal use.
More information can be obtained from the following link:
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