Types of Drug Offences

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Drug possession involves finding drugs, even if they don’t belong to you. Possession can be actual or constructive. Learn more types of drug offences.


Possession of illegal drugs carries a range of punishments depending on the drug and quantity. Those convicted of possession with intent to distribute can face lengthy prison terms.

Police can charge you with possession even if they can’t prove that the drugs belong to you. That is because of a legal concept called “constructive possession”. It says that you can be charged with possessing something if law enforcement finds it on your property and can tell who it belongs to, whether it’s in your pocket or in a bag, for example.

You can also be charged with possession of ‘drug paraphernalia’ such as a pipe or syringe. But it is rare for prosecutors to prosecute for paraphernalia when they can’t demonstrate that you used it for illegal purposes.


The supply of drugs is when a suspect shares or sells illegal substances. It is a serious offence and the penalty varies by class of drug and offender’s culpability and harm caused.

Possession of a large quantity of one drug may suggest the intention to supply it. This is a more serious offence than possession of the same drug for personal use. Having drug related equipment such as weighing scales, cutting agents and bags is also an indicator that the person intends to supply.

It is possible for Police Officers to apply for a warrant to search premises and look for the ingredients used in drug cutting, which will help identify the suspect. It is a criminal offence to obstruct police officers when executing the warrant.


Cultivation and drug manufacturing offences can be extremely serious. For a person to be charged with drug cultivation, the prosecution must prove that the accused planted, cultivated, or harvested an illegal controlled substance. It must also be proved that they possessed chemicals used in the manufacture of drugs or that they were involved in the running of an illicit drug production operation.

Often the police will be able to prove both of these elements by finding items related to the drug-making process in the accused’s possession. However, it is important to remember that the chemicals and equipment themselves are not considered contraband in themselves.

The law does not punish people for using drugs, and so they cannot be prosecuted for addiction – only the cultivation and supply of controlled substances. For many, a conviction for drug offences can have severe consequences and affect employment, housing, relationships, and family life.


Drugs are related to crime in many ways, including through their direct use and possession, their effect on users and the involvement of drug dealers. Drugs include cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

In order to be charged with drug manufacturing a suspect must have some identifiable participation in the preparation of a controlled substance, or at least the chemicals necessary for its manufacture. This could include the presence of a meth lab and the presence of equipment such as bongs, one-hitters or dugouts; spoons; pipes; roach clips; lighters; clear plastic baggies; scales; razor blades and pill bottles.

The offences of obstructing or concealing drug paraphernalia are also included in this category. Possession of drug paraphernalia is usually a misdemeanour, unless it involves certain quantities of marijuana (the set amounts vary by state). The offence can be aggravated by the obstructing or concealing of evidence by a person knowingly, on a police constable or other authorised officer, or an attempt to do so.


Drug trafficking is when you sell, transport or illegally import an illicit drug like heroin or cocaine. This is a very serious charge and often comes with severe penalties.

To be guilty of this crime, you need to knowingly deal drugs. This is very similar to drug possession, but you need to know that you are preparing to sell or distribute the drugs and that they will be sold or distributed.

Many criminals involved in dealing and trafficking drugs are from low economic or social classes. They may be attracted to the lucrative financial rewards that drug trafficking can offer, especially when organised criminal groups are involved. Traffickers also rely on the recruitment of vulnerable people as smugglers. This is particularly a problem in areas where County Line drug networks operate.

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