Drug Offences in Western Australia
In Western Australia, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981, makes it illegal to possess, manufacture, cultivate, use or supply an illicit drug. Drug offences are divided into the categories of possessing and administering, manufacturing, trafficking and cultivation. The penalties that apply depend on the type and quantity of drug and the offender’s circumstances and criminal history. This article outlines drug offences in WA.
In WA, it is an offence to use illegal drugs, to let someone give them to you, or to administer drugs to someone else in WA. These offences attract a maximum penalty of a fine of $2,000 and/or two years imprisonment
‘Drug paraphernalia’ includes anything made or modified to use in connection with preparing or manufacturing a prohibited drug or plant. This includes items such as pipes and bongs as well as equipment used to manufacture drugs such as a pill press.
There are various offences involving drug paraphernalia in WA.
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 carries a maximum penalty of a fine of $10,000 (where it is sold to an adult) or $24,000 and/or two years in prison (where it is sold to a child).
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 three years imprisonment.
Drug possession offences
A person in WA may be charged with an offence if they have illegal drugs in their possession. A person has possession of something if they have it knowingly within their control. ‘Possession’ includes joint possession with someone else.
If illegal drugs belonging to someone else are within your house but you don’t have control over them, you will not be found guilty of possession. However, if you are in control of drugs that belong to someone else, you could be found guilty of possession.
The maximum penalty for drug possession offences in WA is a fine of $2,000 and/or two years imprisonment.
Drug manufacture and cultivation offences
It’s an offence to grow (cultivate), make (manufacture) or prepare illegal drugs, or to let anyone else do so on your property.
‘Cultivating’ an illegal plant includes planting 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 also 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 in WA is a fine of $100,000 and/or 25 years imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for conspiring to grow or make drugs is a fine of $75,000 and/or 20 years in prison. This is the case even if the person involved doesn’t go through with the plan.
Drug supply and trafficking
It is an offence to supply, sell or to offer to supply or sell illegal drugs to someone else in WA (even if you don’t actually end up selling the drugs). ‘Supply’ includes buying drugs with pooled money and splitting the purchase. It also includes sharing drugs with others, even where no payment is received. Providing drugs by mail order also amounts to supply.
When a person is found in possession of an amount of drugs over a specified weight, this leads to the presumption that the drugs were intended for supply unless the accused can prove otherwise. In addition, if a person possesses plastic bags, scales or other drug-packaging items as well as an illicit drug, this can be used as evidence of supply.
If the drug supplied is cannabis, the maximum penalty that can be imposed for supply is a fine of $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 imprisonment.
Serious drug offences
A person who has been convicted of two or more serious drug offences (even where these occur in different states) can be declared to be a drug trafficker in WA. This declaration means that their property can be permanently taken away by police, including any property which has been given away to other people.
In WA, it is an offence to manufacture, sell or supply a psychoactive substance. These offences carry a maximum penalty of a fine of $48,000 and/or four years in prison.
A substance is taken to be a psychoactive substance if a person represents it as a psychoactive substance, regardless of whether it has this effect or not.
If a person promotes or advertises that a substance has a psychoactive effect, or gives information on where or how to acquire such a substance, they risk being charged with an offence with a maximum penalty of $24,000 and/or two years in prison.
Other drug offences
It is also an offence in WA to drive under the influence of drugs, or to be on premises where drugs are being made or sold.
Penalties for drug offences
Drug offences in WA may attract severe penalties, as set out above, including terms of imprisonment. However, for some drug matters, there are diversionary schemes in place that allow a person to avoid being dealt with by the formal criminal justice system in appropriate circumstances, such as where the offending is minor and the person has not been in trouble before.
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