There are different types of drug sentencing and penalties given for different types of drug-related charges.

Some are heavier than others and there’s a lot to understand if you or someone you know has been charged with a drug-related offence.

The type of drug-related offence and the subsequent penalty for it depends on many factors. Just some of these may include:

  • What drug you are caught with
  • The amount you have, i.e. the weight
  • If you are distributing it, selling it, using it, trafficking it or more than one of these
  • What state you live in
  • Your citizenship status within the country
  • Whether you caused an overdose or harm to a buyer / user
  • If you’ve been caught with drugs previously
  • If you distributed the drugs to someone under the age of eighteen
  • If you distributed the drugs interstate or overseas

Speak to our criminal defence lawyers in Melbourne before you do anything else if you get charged with a drug-related offence. We are experienced in dealing with many cases involving drug charges, and can provide you with immediate assistance.

What is the difference between distribution and trafficking?

Distribution of drugs and trafficking of drugs are two separate drug offences as considered by the Australian law.

They both come under the umbrella of what is known colloquially as “drug dealing”.

The difference between them comes in the way the offence is judged:

  • A drug trafficking charge is based on the weight of the drugs
  • A drug distribution charge is based on movement of the drugs, e.g. exporting/importing, transfering, selling etc.

For example, if you are caught with 50g of a drug that you distributed from Melbourne to Sydney, then you could get charged with drug trafficking of 50g of drugs and also be charged separately for distributing drugs interstate.

To be considered trafficking or distribution, the drugs also need to have either been sold or possessed with the intention of selling.

What amount of drugs is considered trafficking?

For it to also be considered “trafficking,” the drugs need to meet a certain amount of weight.

The amount in Australian law is written in “mixed grams” meaning they don’t have to be pure.

For all states except Tasmania, the amount of mixed grams of heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine to be considered trafficking is two to three grams, depending on the state. In Tasmania it’s 25 grams.

For MDMA or ecstasy it is half a gram to three grams depending on the state, except in Tasmania it’s 10 grams.

And for marijuana it varies a lot between states from 50-1000 grams. Unsurprisingly, Tasmania takes the upper figure of 1000, the next down is Queensland with 100.

You can also be charged with trafficking marujana in Victoria if you have ten or more plants of marujana, regardless of weight.

If you’ve been charged with a drug offence for any weight of drugs, consult a criminal defence lawyer in Moorabbin .

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Drug possession, cultivating and manufacturing

You can be found guilty for cultivating or manufacturing drugs if you grow marjuana plants, magic mushroom plants, or cocaine plants.

You can also be charged for manufacturing synthetic drugs such as MDMA, ice or heroin.

In Victoria, growing ten marjuana plants has a penalty of a fine of at least $3000 and or/jail for one year.

For growing 1000 marujana plants or 2kg of ecstasy, you may face a fine of up to $800,000 and a jail sentence.

For manufacturing 5gms of ecstasy tablets, you may face 15 years of jail time.

Possession and use

Of course, you can also be guilty of drug possession or use if you personally found drugs or bought them from someone.

A lot of people think you can only technically be charged for selling or possessing drugs but you can very much be fined for use, although penalties for possession/use are lighter than for drug trafficking or distribution.

If you are caught using marujana in Victoria, the maximum penalty is an $800 fine..

You can be found guilty of drug possession if drugs that aren’t yours are found in your home or in your car, which is why you should always be careful with who you come into contact with.

Prescription drugs

Prescription drug use might sound safe and seemingly exempt from fines but that’s not always true.

You can get a fine for selling your prescription medication, faking a prescription, stealing prescription medication, or misusing your prescription.


Another legal drug you can get fined for misusing is alcohol. If you are caught drink driving, giving alcohol to someone under the age of 18, making and then selling alcohol without a permit, or drinking outside in most public places, then you could be charged.

If this happens, you can speak to a drink driving lawyer.

Can drug trafficking charges be dropped?

There are certain contexts in which charges for drug-related offences may be dropped. One could be because not enough evidence was found that the drugs were in the defendant’s possession with the intention of selling them and the defendant plead not guilty.

Another way is if the judge decides to assign the defendant a “diversion plan” to help them overcome a related mental illness or addiction.

Who do I speak to if I’ve been convicted of a drug related offence?

James Dowsley and Associates is one of the best drug defence lawyers in Victoria. Contact us for advice or to defend you if you’ve been charged with a drug-related offence or any other crime on (03) 9781 4900 or fill out this form.

We have multiple offices across Melbourne and also offer VIC Legal Aid support.