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Illicit drug use and other drug-related offences are regulated by both State and Commonwealth legislation. The Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) regulates or prohibits ‘the manufacture, production, sale, supply, possession, handling or use of certain poisons, drugs, therapeutic and other substances and ... certain therapeutic devices’. In addition, section 9B of the the Summary Offences Act 1953 covers the sale of drug paraphernalia. Duty solicitors are likely to encounter defendants charged with drug-related offences under these Acts and may be asked to assist with a guilty plea for less serious offences. Whilst the following chapter highlights many drug offences which a duty solicitor is likely to encounter, it is important to acknowledge the limitations placed on the role of the duty solicitor when dealing with drug related offences.

Other than simple possession of cannabis offences, a duty solicitor should not take instructions and have a client enter or even intimate a guilty plea on any other drug-related matter.

Whilst duty solicitors do not act for defendants charged with Commonwealth drug offences due to the severity of the potential penalties, the following information is included for completeness. Relevant Commonwealth legislation related to illicit drug use is to be found in the Customs Act 1901 (Cth), the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Cth) and the Crimes (Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act 1990 (Cth). In daily practice only offences under the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) are likely to be encountered. That Act is concerned with the movement and control of goods into and out of Australia and contains many other offences not related to drugs.

Further information on Drug Offences is contained in the Law Handbook sections: Drug Offences.

Introduction  :  Last Revised: Wed Jan 20th 2016