Trafficking in a Controlled Drug
Section 603 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence in the Australian Capital Territory to traffic in a controlled drug. A controlled drug is generally any drug that cannot legally be possessed as well as any medicine that cannot legally be possessed without a prescription. The penalty for a violation of section 603 depends upon the quantity of the drug that was trafficked.
A person traffics a drug by doing any of the following:
- Sells the drug;
- Possesses the drug with the intent to sell it;
- Prepares the drug for sale with the intent to sell it or so that someone else can sell it;
- Transports the drug with the intent to sell it or so that someone else can sell it;
Guards or conceals the drug so that it can be sold later.
Trafficking penalties apply to all controlled drugs, including cannabis. Cannabis refers to any part of the cannabis (marijuana) plant, including flowers, buds, leaves, stalks, and seeds, as well as THC, the psychoactive chemical that cannabis produces. Cannabis does not refer to resin or to fibres produced from plants.
Quantities and penalties
The penalties for drug trafficking can be severe. The penalties are harshest for the largest quantities.
Large commercial quantities
Trafficking in large commercial quantities carries a maximum sentence of life. Examples of large commercial quantities include:
- Cocaine, 6 KG
- Methamphetamine, 6 KG
- Cannabis, 150 KG
- Heroin, 5 KG
- MDMA (Ecstasy), 10 KG
- LSD, 0.003 KG
Trafficking in commercial quantities carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. Examples of commercial quantities include:
- Cocaine, 3 KG
- Methamphetamine, 3 KG
- Cannabis, 30 KG
- Heroin, 2.5 KG
- MDMA (Ecstasy), 5 KG
- LSD, 0.0015 KG
Trafficable quantities of cannabis
Trafficking in a trafficable quantity of cannabis carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. A trafficable quantity is 300 G.
Lesser quantities of cannabis
Trafficking in less than a trafficable quantity of cannabis carries a maximum sentence of 3 years.
Lesser quantities of drugs other than cannabis
Trafficking in less than a commercial quantity of any controlled drug other than cannabis carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
For certain offences involving large drug quantities, an accused is subject to “absolute liability.” That means the accused can be found guilty despite having no intention to commit a crime and despite being mistaken about or ignorant of the nature of the controlled drug involved in the offence.
Absolute liability applies to:
- Trafficking in a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug
- Trafficking in a commercial quantity of a controlled drug
- Trafficking in a trafficable quantity of cannabis
All trafficking charges are serious, regardless of the quantity involved. If you are being prosecuted for a trafficking offence, you should seek legal representation immediately.