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  • 09 Criminal Offences and Penalties
  • Commonwealth Law: importing and exporting
  • Drug Offences
  • Offences
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In this chapter Expand current chapter list below


The law concerning federal drug offences is contained in the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)  Chapter 9, Part 9.1. Australian law is in line with our international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

This chapter was written with reference to the Fitzroy Law Handbook Online.


Where a Commonwealth law requires the import or export to be authorised but it isn’t, the person is taken to have imported or exported the substance with the intention of using some or all of the substance to manufacture a controlled drug and a belief that another intended to manufacture a controlled drug. These presumptions do not apply if the person proves on the balance of probabilities that he or she did not have that intention or belief.

To establish a precursor importation offence, the accused must have intended to use the precursor to manufacture a controlled drug and/or believed that another person intended to use the precursor to manufacture a controlled drug.


Federal drug offences fall into two categories. The first category relates to the import and export of border controlled drugs and precursors (chemicals used to manufacture drugs) and is dealt with in Division 307 of the Criminal Code. The second category relates to domestic activity involving controlled drugs and precursors, such as trafficking and manufacture. These are dealt with in Division 308 of the Criminal Code. The offences in each category are tiered, based on the quantity of serious drug involved, with greater penalties being available where a ‘marketable’ or ‘commercial’ quantity is involved.

Attempting to commit any of these crimes, aiding and abetting in their commission, and conspiring to commit a crime are all offences in themselves (s11). Conviction for any of these can result in imprisonment or heavy fines.

Drug offences involving or harming children

There are offences in the Criminal Code directed at adults who involve children under 18 years of age in the drug trade. As well as a range of domestic offences, these include offences relating to procuring a child to pre-traffic in precursors, or import controlled drugs or border controlled precursors. Pre-trafficking includes selling the substance believing that the person to whom it is sold, or another person, intends to use any of the substance to manufacture a controlled drug (s306.1).

Page last updated 09/03/2021

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