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Sale Of Potentially Harmful Things

What the law says

Sections 23 of the Summary Offences Act Queensland states:

  1. A person (the Seller) must not sell a potentially harmful thing to another person if the seller knows or believes, on reasonable grounds, that the other person-
    • (a) intends to inhale or ingest the thing; or
    • (b) intends to sell the thing to another person for inhalation or ingestion whether by that person or someone else.

In this section

Potentially harmful thing

  • (a) means a thing a person may lawfully possess that is or contains a substance that may be harmful to a person if ingested or inhaled ( examples include glue, paint, solvent); and
  • (b) includes mentholated spirits; and
  • (c) does not include a thing intended by its manufacturer to be inhaled, or ingested by a person using it.
  • SellĀ includes
  • (a) sell by wholesale, retail or action; and
  • (b) supply in trade or commerce or under an arrangement; and
  • (c) agree, attempt or offer to sell; and
  • (d) keep or expose for sale; and
  • (e) cause or permit to be sold.

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 intended to sell the harmful thing.
  2. The person to whom the potentially harmful thing was being sold intended to inhale or ingest it.
  3. The accused knows the person to whom he sold the potentially harmful thing intends to sell it to another person for inhalation or ingestion.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Sale of Potentially Harmful Things

  • (a) for the first offence - 25 penalty units or 3 months imprisonment.
  • (b) For the second or later offence - 50 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment.

For the purposes of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, section 46, a seller is not to be taken to discriminate against a person only because the seller refuses to sell a potentially harmful thing because of subsection (1).

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is a simple offence which means it is dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. The accused did not sell the potentially harmful thing.
  2. The accused was not aware that the person intended to inhale or ingest the potentially harmful thing.
  3. The accused was not aware that the person intended to sell the thing to another person for inhalation or ingestion.

Criminal Law Article written by Bill Potts (a Queensland criminal defence lawyer who is experienced in Public Nuisance matters)


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