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Drug Charges - Possessing Relevant Substances Or Things - S9a Drugs Misuse Act

The following drug charge article was written by a practicing criminal lawyer with experience in drug charges. For information on other drugs charges, visit our Drug Charges home page.

What the law says

Section 9A(1) of the Drug Misuse Act 1986 states:

A person who unlawfully possesses a relevant substance or thing commits a crime.

Section 9A(2) sets out the meaning of "relevant substance or thing" as:

  • (a) a substance that is, or contains, a controlled substance and the gross weight of the relevant substance is of, or exceeds, the gross weight specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 8A in respect of the relevant substance; or
  • (b) substances that together are, or contain, a controlled substance and the total gross weight of the relevant substances is of, or exceeds, the total of the gross weights specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 8A in respect of the relevant substances; or
  • (c) a thing specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 8B.

The meaning of  "controlled substance" is set out in section 4 of the act as:

  • (a) a substance specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 6; or
  • (b) a salt, derivative or stereo-isomer of a substance specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 6; or
  • (c) a salt of a derivative or stereo-isomer of a substance specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 6;

but does not include a compound consisting of a substance specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 6 and of a substance not specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, schedule 6.

The "things specified" in schedule 8B are:

  1. condenser
  2. distillation head
  3. heating mantle
  4. manual or mechanical pill press, including a pill press under repair, a modification of a pill press and parts for a pill press
  5. rotary evaporator
  6. reaction vessel, including a reaction vessel under repair or a modification of a reaction vessel; and
  7. splash head, including a splash head under repair or parts for a splash head

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The accused had in his or her possession. Possession means physical control or custody. You do not possess a thing unless you actually exercise dominion over it.
  2.  That it is a "relevant substance or thing" as defined in the Drugs Misuse Act and Regulations.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.

Which court will hear the matter

Under section 13 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 certain (less serious with maximum penalties of less than 15 years) offences can be dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court. 

This offence will therefore be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or in the Supreme Court at the election of the Defence

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to:

  1. Not having sufficient control of the thing to constitute possession;
  2. That the thing is not a "relevant substance or thing" as defined in the Act and Regulations.
  3. Mistaken identity
  4. Duress

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