Supply of a
Prohibited Drug

A person can be charged with supplying a drug if they share a drug, sell a drug, agree to sell a drug, offer to sell a drug or have a drug in their possession intending to supply it. You can also be charged with supply simply because of the amount of the drug that you have on you (deemed supply). The concept of 'deemed' supply  states that if you have more than the 'traffickable' amount of a particular drug, the Court is to presume that you have the intention of supplying it. This presumption can be rebutted if the defence satisfies the Court that the drug was for personal use, or for some other lawful purpose. 

There are many ways that a supply charge might be able to be challenged. Factors such as the conduct of police, where the drugs were found and the lawfulness of investigative tactics may all effect whether the case can be proved against you. In order to assess your chances of beating a supply charge, these issues need to be considered by a skilled and experienced lawyer.

The maximum penalty for drug supply depends on the amount of drug involved and the nature of the drug. Supply can range in seriousness from sharing a joint with a friend, right through to the sale of kilos of cocaine, heroin or ice etc for millions of dollars. There are therefore numerous categories of supply with various applicable penalties ranging from fines through to life imprisonment.

While heavy penalties can be imposed for serious cases, it is not uncommon for persons charged with drug supply to receive sentences other than gaol. These can include Good Behaviour Bonds, Suspended Sentences, Intensive Corrections Orders and Home Detention. 

A conviction for drug supply however minor, can have disastrous effects on prospects for employment and international travel. In a limited number of cases, a skilled lawyer may be able to convince the court to deal with a supply charge under section 10. This means there is a finding of guilt, but no conviction recorded against your name.


The least serious of the supply offences are those where the amount of the drug is not more than the 'small quantity' which is specified in the legislation for the particular drug. If charged with this offence it will almost always be dealt with in the Local Court. If you have no prior criminal history, it may be possible for a skilled lawyer to convince the Court to deal with this charge undersection 10; that is without conviction. A conviction for any drug charge can have devastating effects on your prospects for employment and travel. Even if you are charged with supplying only a small quantity, you should obtain legal representation.

Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment / $5,500 fine


As when charged with a small quantity of a particular drug, if you are charged with having a 'traffickable quantity', your charge will almost certainly be dealt with in the Local Court. Sentences can range from section 10 through to gaol. The likely sentence will depend very heavily on whether you have a criminal history, and in particular whether you have a history of involvement with drugs.

Maximum penalty: 2 years imprisonment / $11,000 fine


The charge of 'indictable supply' covers a huge range of offending. It begins with drug weights just above the traffickable quantity (which is dealt with in the Local Court), and ends just before commercial quantity. It ranges from one-time supply of drugs all the way through to major drug supply operations. At the bottom end of the indictable bracket, sentences other than gaol are routinely imposed. At the top of the bracket gaol sentences are calculated in years. What the likely penalty is in your case can only be assessed after a comprehensive analysis of your case, as well your personal circumstances.

Maximum penalty: 15 years imprisonment / $220,000 fine
Maximum penalty: 10 years imprisonment / $220,000 fine (in the case of cannabis)


If you are charged with supplying a 'commercial quantity' of a prohibited drug and you plead guilty or are found guilty, a substantial gaol term is almost certain. This offence is targetted at major drug supply networks and the people that direct them. The offences are often detected during long term police operations where numerous drug supply activities are put under surveillance. Therefore the criminality covered by a single charge can include numerous acts of supply committed over a substantial period of time.

Maximum penalty: 20 years imprisonment / $385,000 fine
Maximum penalty: 15 years imprisonment / $385,000 fine (in the case of cannabis)


Street level dealers typically engage in the repeated sale of 'small' or 'traffickable' quantities of prohibited drugs. This means that in the past they were only exposed to relatively minor penalties and were often dealt with in the Local Court. This is despite the fact that as foot soldiers for large drug supply networks, they play a crucial role in sustaining the industry. The Legislature responded by introducing a law making it a very serious offence to supply on three of more separate occasions within a 30 day period. This means that if you conduct a one off 'small' quantity supply you can still be dealt with in the Local Court, but if you are repeatedly engaged in street level supply for profit, you will face a heavy penalty.

There are a number of technical matters that the prosecution must establish in order to prove this charge. If you are charged with ongoing supply, it is highly recommended that you obtain legal advice.

Maximum penalty: 20 years imprisonment / $385,000 fine


This is the most serious category of supply. It involves the supply of drugs typically worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Often the total weight of the drug will be calculated by taking into account numerous acts of supply, or stockpiles of drugs located in different places. Any person charged and convicted of supplying a large commercial quantity of prohibited drugs will spend years in gaol. 

Maximum penalty: Life imprisonment / $550,000

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