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Precursor Offences

A precursor is a chemical that, when combined with other chemicals, will produce a drug. More than one hundred precursors are regulated by law in the Australian Capital Territory. They are called “controlled precursors.” A list of controlled precursors can be found in Schedule 3 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2005.

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are examples of controlled precursors. Although they are commonly used in cold remedies, they can also be combined with other chemicals to produce methamphetamine.

It is generally not an offence to possess a controlled precursor. In fact, many of them can be purchased off the shelf in pharmacies and supermarkets. It is, however, an offence to possess or sell a controlled precursor that is intended for use in manufacturing and selling a controlled drug. A “controlled drug” is one that cannot legally be possessed or that can only be legally acquired with a prescription.

Possessing controlled precursor

It is a violation of section 612 of the Criminal Code to possess a controlled precursor:

  • with the intent to use it to manufacture a controlled drug, and
  • with the intent to sell the controlled drug or with the belief that someone else will sell the controlled drug.

Selling controlled precursor 

It is a violation of section 610 of the Criminal Code to sell a controlled precursor believing that someone will use the controlled precursor to manufacture a controlled drug for sale.

Manufacturing controlled precursor

It is a violation of section 611 of the Criminal Code to manufacture a controlled precursor:

  • with the intention of manufacturing and selling a controlled drug, or
  • with the intention of selling the controlled precursor with the belief that someone will use the controlled precursor to manufacture a controlled drug for sale.

Penalties

The penalty for selling a controlled precursor in violation of section 610, possession a controlled precursor in violation of section 612, or manufacturing a controlled precursor in violation of section 611 depends upon the amount of the controlled precursor involved in the offence. The penalties are:

  • Large commercial quantities:  maximum sentence of 25 years.
  • Commercial quantities: maximum sentence of 15 years.
  • Lesser quantities:  maximum sentence of 7 years.

The amount of a controlled precursor that constitutes a large commercial quantity or a commercial quantity varies, depending on the controlled precursor. The table that defines those amounts for each controlled precursor is in Schedule 3 of the Criminal Code Regulations 2005.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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