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Drugs and breaking the law

There are many drugs considered dangerous in Queensland, and if you have them (except when lawfully prescribed) you’re breaking the law. In Queensland, illegal drugs are divided into 3 categories:

If you're caught with Schedule 1 drugs the penalties are more severe than Schedule 2 drugs.

If you’re charged with any drug-related offences you should get legal advice.

Note: Get legal advice if you were arrested or received a Notice to Appear or a Summons before 1 October 2011, as different information may apply.

Common illegal drugs

In Queensland, illegal drugs are divided into the following categories:

More serious penalties apply to drugs listed in Schedule 1 than in Schedule 2.

Schedule 1, Part 1 drugs include:

  • heroin
  • cocaine
  • amphetamines
  • methlyamphetamine (commonly known as ice, or crystal meth)
  • phencyclidine (commonly known as angel dust)
  • lysergide (commonly known as LSD)
  • methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy)
  • paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA)—(drugs sometimes sold as ecstasy but more powerful).

Schedule 1, Part 2 drugs includes all anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents.

Schedule 2 includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • cannabis
  • morphine
  • pethidine
  • ketamine.

The full list of illegal drugs can be found in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987.

Drug related offences

You’re breaking the law if you:

  • Possess illegal drugs. Possession isn’t the same as ownership. You can be in possession of a drug even if you don't own it and haven't used it. For example, if you know there are drugs in your share house the law says they’re in your possession even if they belong to someone else.
  • Supply illegal drugs. This includes:
    • giving, distributing, selling, administering, transporting or supplying
    • offering to give, distribute, sell, administer, transport or supply
    • doing or offering to do anything in preparation for giving, distributing, selling, administering, transporting or supplying.

     The penalties are more serious if you’re an adult and you supply:

  • to a child
  • to a person who is intellectually impaired
  • in an education institution
  • in a correctional facility
  • to someone who doesn’t know they are being supplied with drugs.
  • Traffic illegal drugs. Trafficking is supplying drugs in circumstances of a commercial nature, and usually involves large amounts of drugs, or several acts of supply, or an organised business.
  • Cultivate or produce illegal drugs. This covers the growing, preparing, manufacturing, packaging and production of drugs.
  • Possess items used to take drugs (eg bong, pipe, syringes) or to produce drugs (eg scales, lights, agricultural equipment) if they’ve been used for a drug offence or are intended to be used for a drug offence.

For example, just giving your friend one of your pills is enough for a charge of supply.

If you’re charged with any drug-related offences you should get legal advice.


Chroming is when a person ingests or inhales fumes from glue, paint, or some other dangerous substance.

It’s not illegal, but the police have powers to intervene if they reasonably suspect you have a potentially harmful item on you that you’ve ingested or inhaled or are about to ingest or inhale (eg if they find you with paint on your lips). 

In this situation the police can search you, and anything in your possession or they can ask you to explain why you have something on you that could hurt you. If you don’t have a reasonable explanation they can take it away from you for good.

If you’ve been chroming, and are affected by it, the police can stop you from leaving until they’re able to take you to a safe place (like a hospital or your home) where somebody can look after you and help you recover. Someone at this safe place must agree to look after you.

If the way you’re behaving puts other people at a risk of harm, the police can leave you at a safe place. If you’re taken to a safe place you can leave at any time unless you’re being kept there under an order (eg at a hospital under a mental health order).

It’s an offence for anyone to sell you harmful substances such as paint, glue or methylated spirits if they believe you intend to ingest or inhale it.

Police searches

A police officer can:

  • stop and search you if they reasonably suspect you may have a dangerous drug in your possession (including a strip search as long as it is done by an officer of the same sex)
  • stop and search your vehicle if they reasonably suspect there’s a dangerous drug in the vehicle
  • search your house (or business) if they reasonably suspect there is evidence that may otherwise be hidden or destroyed
  • use drug detection dogs in certain places.

The police need a court order to use listening devices, and while they can order a cavity search, the actual search has to be done by a doctor.

The police may have the power to search you in other situations—see police searches without a warrant.  

Drugs and talking to the police

If you’re being investigated for a drug-related offence the police may need you to give your date and place of birth as well as your name and address. If you don’t answer, you’re breaking the law. You should get legal advice. See Talking to the police.  

Going to court for a drug offence

Get legal advice if you’re going to court for a drug-related offence. If you’re charged with a minor drug offence, you may be eligible for court diversion.

You may be able to get help from a duty lawyer on the day you go to court.

Do I need legal advice?

You should get legal advice if you’ve been charged with any drug-related offences.

How to get legal advice

We may give legal advice about drug-related offences. We can’t provide a lawyer to attend a police interview with you.

If you’ve been charged with a serious offence or you have any urgent matter you can apply for legal aid (if you’re eligible), or find a private lawyer rather than waiting for a legal advice booking.

The following organisations may be able to give you legal advice.

Community legal centres may give free preliminary legal advice and information on some criminal law matters. Most of them don’t provide legal representation. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.

The Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice and representation.


If you’re charged with an offence, you should ask police prosecutions for a copy of your Queensland Police form 9 (QP9) — this is a written summary of the police version of why you were charged and what happened. You should get your QP9 before getting legal advice. 

You can get your QP9 from the police prosecutor on your first court date (the duty lawyer may be able to help you). If you can’t collect it on your first court date you’ll need to apply to police prosecutions for a copy. You’ll need to make a written request and show photo ID.

Who else can help?

The following services may also be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Queensland Courts provides information about the:

  • Supreme Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • District Court
  • Magistrates Court
  • Coroners Court
  • Childrens Court of Queensland
  • Land Court.

Alcohol and Drug Service  gives information, counselling and referrals for anyone with concerns related to the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Drug Arm has a range of services including counselling, family help and support, information and referrals and an illicit drugs diversion initiative.

Related links and information
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