It is a crime to unlawfully have possession of a dangerous drug.
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What constitutes a dangerous drug?
In Queensland, Schedule 1 or 2 the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987(Qld) provides a list of substances which are defined as dangerous drugs.
Schedule 1 includes what are regarded as the more serious substances including:
- Methylamphetamine (Commonly referred to as Ice)
- 3,4 – Methylamphetamine (Commonly referred to as Ecstacy)
Schedule 2 includes other drugs including:
- Diazepam (Valium)
What constitutes possession of a dangerous drug?
A person is in possession of a dangerous drug if they know they have physical control or custody of it. A person can also be in possession of a drug even if they do not have the substance in their physical position. A person can also be in possession of a drug with another person.
To convict a person of the offence, the Prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person knew of the existence of the drugs and have laid a claim to it or exercised some control over it. The Prosecution are only required to prove the knowledge of the substance, not the nature of the substance. If a person claims that they believed a substance was not a dangerous drug, the onus is on that person to raise the defence of having an honest and reasonable mistake as to the nature of the substance.
Proof that a dangerous drug was at the material time in or on a place of which a person was the occupier or concerned in the management or control of is conclusive evidence that the drug was then in the person’s possession, unless the person shows that he or she neither knew or had reason to suspect that the drug was in or on that place.
What are the maximum Penalties for Possessing Dangerous Drugs?
Certain possess dangerous drugs charges may be dealt with by way of a trial or sentence in the Magistrates Court. The maximum penalty that can be imposed in the Magistrates Court is 3 years imprisonment.
More serious charges must be heard by the District or Supreme Court where the maximum penalty ranges from 15 years imprisonment to 25 years imprisonment.
The seriousness of the charge and the penalty that is imposed depends on several different factors including but not limited to:
- whether the drug was a schedule 1 or schedule 2 drug.
- the quantity of the drug
- whether the drug was possessed for a commercial purpose
- the criminal history of the person
- whether the person was a drug dependent person at the time of the offending
- the plea entered to the charge