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Drug Offences in Western Australia

Drug offences in Western Australia, which fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981, state that it is illegal to possess, manufacture, cultivate, use or supply an illicit drug.

The law is divided into offences of:

  • possessing and administering
  • manufacturing of controlled precursors
  • trafficking of controlled substances
  • the cultivation and sale of controlled plants, and
  • general drug offences.

The penalties depend on factors such as the type and quantity of drug and whether or not it is a first offence.

It is also an offence to drive under the influence of drugs, or to be on premises where drugs are being made or sold. For some drug matters there are diversionary schemes in place.

Drug Offences in Western Australia

Drug use

It is an offence to use illegal drugs, to let someone give them to you, or to administer drugs into someone else.

  • To be convicted, police have to prove that you have used drugs. They can ask a doctor to conduct a blood test only if they’ve arrested you.
  • You could be charged if you let people use drugs at your place or, in some instances, if you are at someone else’s place where drugs are being used even if you don’t use any drugs yourself.
  • For these offences the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $2,000 and/or 2 years in prison.

Drug paraphernalia

‘Drug paraphernalia’ includes anything made or modified to use in connection with preparing or manufacturing a prohibited drug or plant:

  • for administering to anyone (including by smoking, inhaling or ingesting), or
  • to be heated up or burned to a point where its smoke or fumes can be smoked or inhaled by someone.

To display, or allow or authorise the display of, drug paraphernalia for sale in a retail outlet carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $10,000.

The sale of drug paraphernalia to a child carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $24,000 and/or 2 years in prison.

Possessing drug paraphernalia which has a prohibited drug or a prohibited plant in or on it carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $36,000 and/or 3 years in prison.

Drug offences in Western Australia involving possession

You may be charged if you have illegal drugs in your possession (such as in your pockets or in your bag or in your house).

‘Possession’ includes joint possession with someone else.

If illegal drugs belonging to someone else are in your house and you don’t have control over them, you will not be guilty of possession.

If you don’t have a doctor’s prescription for them, it’s illegal to possess prescription drugs.

The maximum penalty for drug possession offences is a fine of $2,000 and/or 2 years in prison.

Drug manufacture and cultivation

It’s an offence to grow (cultivate), make (manufacture) or prepare illegal drugs, or to let anyone else do so on your property.

When considering drug offences in Western Australia, ‘cultivating’ an illegal plant includes things like planting the seeds, watering the plants, and picking the leaves.

Possessing something that is used for the manufacture of any illegal drug (including things like scales) or of any drug making apparatus is an offence.

An occupier, owner, or lessee of a premises who knowingly allows the premises to be used for preparing, manufacturing, selling, supplying, or using a prohibited drug or plant commits an offence.

The maximum penalty for growing or making drugs to sell is a fine of $100,000 and/or 25 years in prison.

The maximum penalty for conspiring to grow or make drugs is a fine of $75,000 and/or 20 years in prison – even if the people involved don’t go through with it.

Drug supply and trafficking

Drug offences in Western Australia render it an offence to sell or to offer to sell illegal drugs to someone else (even if you don’t actually end up selling the drugs).

‘Supply’ includes buying drugs with pooled money and splitting the purchase. Providing mail order drugs is also supply.

A person convicted of 2 or more serious drug offences (even occurring interstate) can be declared to be a drug trafficker. Their property can then be permanently taken away by police, including any property which has been given away to other people.

Possession of an amount of drugs over a specified weight leads to the presumption that it was intended for supply unless you can prove otherwise. In addition, if you possess plastic bags, scales or other drug-packaging items, they can be used as evidence of supply.

If the drug is cannabis, the maximum penalty is $20,000 and/or 10 years in prison. For other drugs or substances, the maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and/or 25 years in prison.

Psychoactive substances

If a substance is represented to be a psychoactive substance, for the purposes of drug offences in Western Australia, it is accepted as such regardless of whether it works or not.

It’s an offence to manufacture, sell or supply a psychoactive substance, carrying a maximum penalty of a fine of $48,000 and/or 4 years in prison.

If you promote or advertise that a substance has a psychoactive effect, or if you give information on where or how to acquire such a substance, you risk being charged with an offence which carries a maximum penalty of $24,000 and/or 2 years in prison.

This article reflects the state of the law as at 13 April 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.

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