Possession of cannabis or a controlled drug
Under s 33L of the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) it is an offence for a person to:
- have possession of a controlled drug;
- smoke, consume or administer to him or herself, or allow another person to administer to them, a controlled drug;
- have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the smoking, consumption or administration of a controlled drug;
- have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the preparation of a controlled drug for smoking, consumption or administration.
This is often referred to as a simple possession offence.
- For a drug other than cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabis oil: $2 000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
- In relation to cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabis oil: $2 000.
For simple possession offences involving there is a police drug diversion program available. The program diverts individuals away from the criminal justice system into treatment and education and provides an opportunity to avoid prosecution in court, see Diversionary schemes.
Whether or not a person is guilty of a simple possession/use charge or a more serious charge of trafficking, manufacturing, cultivation, sale or supply will depend partly on the amount of the drug involved.
Presumption of sale or supply
Possession of more than a certain amount of a drug or substance will lead to a presumption that it is for sale or supply and take the offence out of this penalty range.
Possession of a controlled precursor
It is an offence to possess, or to supply, or to possess intending to supply, a prescribed amount of a controlled precursor [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 33LB].
Maximum penalty: $15 000 or 3 years imprisonment or both [s 33LB(1)(a)(ii)]. Where the offender is a serious drug offender, or the offence is an aggravated offence, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of up to $20 000, or imprisonment for 5 years, or both [s 33LB(1)(a)(i); s 33LB(1)(b)].
The maximum penalty increases if, in addition, the person also possesses, supplies, or possesses with intention to supply another kind of controlled precursor or any prescribed equipment: $20 000 or 5 years imprisonment, or both [s 33LB(2)(a)(ii)]. Where the offender is a serious drug offender, or the offence is an aggravated offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to 430 000, or imprisonment for 7 years, or both [see ss 33LB(2)(a)(i); ss 33LB(2)(b)].
Prescribed equipment includes [Controlled Substances (Controlled Drugs, Precursors and Plants) Regulations 2014 (SA) reg 9]:
- equipment for hydroponic cannabis cultivation (the Regulations provide a list of equipment);
- equipment for the manufacture of controlled drugs (the Regulations provide a list of equipment); and
- a document containing instructions for the manufacture of a controlled drug or the cultivation of a controlled plant [see s 33LAB Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA)]
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