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Drug Offences in Victoria

Updated on Dec 14, 2022 4 min read 561 views Copy Link

Michelle Makela

Published in Apr 20, 2016 Updated on Dec 14, 2022 4 min read 561 views

Drug Offences in Victoria

Drug offences in Victoria are contained in the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Drugs Act). The Act contains offences for two types of drugs of dependence: drugs that it is unlawful to possess without a prescription, and drugs that it is unlawful to possess under any circumstances. This page deals with drug offences in Victoria.

What drugs are illegal in Victoria?

Drugs that are unlawful to possess under any circumstances in Victoria include:

  • cocaine
  • methamphetamine
  • heroin, and
  • synthetic drugs
  • analogues of drugs

Under Victorian legislation, the penalties that apply to drug offences depend on the quantity and type of drug involved.

Use of drugs

For drug offences in Victoria, ‘using’ means consuming a drug by smoking, injecting, inhaling, swallowing, or in any other way getting it into your body.

For cannabis the maximum penalty for use is a fine of five penalty units. For other drugs, the maximum penalty is a fine of 30 penalty units, one year of imprisonment, or both.

Possession of drugs

A person ‘possesses’ a drug if they knowingly have physical control or custody of it to the exclusion of anyone else who is not acting with them.

Possession includes where drugs are:

  • on land or premises occupied by the alleged possessor, or
  • in any place whatsoever that is used, enjoyed or controlled by the alleged possessor.

Possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis for personal use carries a fine only. For larger quantities of cannabis or for any other drug the penalty is a fine and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

Cultivation of drugs

It’s an offence to cultivate a narcotic plant, including seeds or a cutting with or without roots (eg cannabis, opium poppy, coca plant). ‘Cultivate’ includes sowing, planting, growing, tending, grafting, dividing, transplanting, nurturing or harvesting.

The maximum penalty if the cultivation is not related to trafficking is a fine of 20 penalty units or one year imprisonment.

The maximum penalty where the cultivated is related to trafficking is imprisonment for 15 years.

The maximum penalty for cultivation of a commercial quantity is 25 years imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for a large commercial quantity is a fine of 5000 penalty units and/or life imprisonment.

It is a defence if the person did not know or suspect, or could not be expected to know or suspect, that the plant being cultivated was classified as a narcotic.

Trafficking drugs

‘Trafficking’ drugs means, for example, selling, manufacturing, possessing for sale, and offering for sale. Giving a drug as a gift is generally not considered trafficking.

Trafficking is often proved by direct evidence through the observation of, or participation in, a sale. It may, though, also be proved by inference, such as where a person is selling or manufacturing more than one person would usually require, having the traffickable quantity (defined by weight or number of plants) of drugs packaged for sale, and/or having other items indicating it may be for selling, such as weigh scales, bags, or cash.

Trafficking includes:

  • preparing drugs for trafficking (eg drying cannabis, packaging up drugs) even though no drugs have as yet been actually trafficked
  • manufacturing or making the drug
  • selling, exchanging, or agreeing to sell
  • offering for sale, even if no sale takes place or if the person had no intention of going through with the sale, or if the drug when analysed turns out not to be a drug
  • buying drugs on behalf of someone else, even if the buyer doesn’t profit from the transaction.

Trafficking – maximum penalties

Drug offences in Victoria relating to trafficking carry potentially very heavy penalties:

Non-commercial quantities 15 years
To a person under 18 20 years
Commercial quantities Imprisonment for 25 years
Large commercial quantity 5000 penalty units and/or life imprisonment
Possess a tablet press or a prescribed precursor chemical Five years imprisonment
Possess substance or material, or documents (relating to preparation, cultivation or manufacture of a drug) or equipment for trafficking a drug 10 years imprisonment

Other drug offences in Victoria

There are also criminal offence in Victoria relating to:

  • putting a drug into another person’s body
  • forging a prescription
  • making any false representation to obtain:
    • a drug from an authorised person as defined in the Drugs Act
    • a prescription for a drug from a doctor
    • an injection of a drug by a doctor
    • the filling of a prescription
  • doing something in Victoria in respect of a drug offence outside of Victoria.
  • conspiring to commit drug offences in Victoria, or to attempt to commit an offence or to help, induce or encourage someone else to commit an offence.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

Published in

Apr 20, 2016

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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