In this guide 1 penalty unit (1 p.u.) is $157.

In Tasmania illegal drugs are called controlled drugs. Illegal plants are called controlled plants.

The definition of “controlled drugs” extends to include substances which are chemical analogues of, or chemically related to, listed controlled drugs.

This may mean that new synthetic type drugs that are chemically derived from or related to a controlled drug will also be illegal even if it is not specifically listed in the schedules.

Controlled Drugs

Controlled Plants

  • Heroin
  • Cannabis
  • THC cannibinols
  • Cathinone (Mephedrone, MCAT, meow)
  • PCE
  • PCP
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • DMT
  • GHB
  • Meth-amphetamine (ice/speed)
  • Mescaline
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Ketamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Dexamphetamine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Cocaine
  • Coca Leaf


  • This list does not contain all controlled drugs. The full list of all controlled drugs can be found listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001 Schedule 1 under the heading “Part 2 – Controlled drugs”.





  • Cannabis
  • Opium poppies
  • This list does not contain all controlled drugs. The full list of all controlled drugs can be found listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001 Schedule 1 under the heading “Part 3 – Controlled plants”.




Knowledge of the particular drug

For offences involving controlled drugs or controlled plants in Tasmania the police generally have to prove that you knew or should have known that the drugs or plants were controlled drugs or controlled plants.

They don’t need to prove you knew which particular drug or plant you had in your possession. This means, for example that you can be charged with trafficking in speed, even if you thought you only had a legal synthetic substance.

If you hold out or pass off a substance or plant as a controlled drug or plant, for the purpose of supply, you can still face the same penalties as if it were a controlled drug. This means, for example that you can be charged with suppling cocaine, even if you are trying to rip someone off by suppling icing sugar.

Mixtures of drugs and trafficking

A mixture of substances which contains an amount of a controlled drug will be regarded as a controlled drug. This means that if you sell cocaine cut up with washing powder you can still be charged.

Rules for determining total quantities of different drugs or mixtures of drugs for the purpose of determining which offence you will be charged with, which Court your case will be heard in, and what penalty you face on conviction, are very complicated.

Tasmania uses a mixed weight system of calculating threshold quantities for trafficking.

Tasmanian police and prosecutors take the total weight of the seized drug sample (e.g., pills, tablets, caps, points, joints, mixtures, or preparations) to be the total quantity of the controlled drug when charging you.

The purity of the drugs is not relevant when determining what quantity of drug you possess and therefore what charge you face in court (e.g., possession for personal use or trafficking).

This means that it doesn’t matter how pure your drugs or drug mixtures are. The prosecution only has to show that the weight of the pills, tablets, caps, points, joints, or other mixture is greater than the trafficable quantity for you to be charged with trafficking.

Aggregated quantities of drugs and trafficking

Amounts of different drugs can be added (aggregated) together so that you can face higher penalties for drug offences even if you possess, supply, traffic or manufacture small quantities of a lot of different drugs.

The law specifies that where the required fraction of each drug you are found with adds up to a whole number greater than 1, you will be charged with an offence based on a higher aggregated quantity. For example, if you are charged with trafficking a number of different drugs, the prosecution will calculate the ‘required fractions’ of the quantity of each pure drug by dividing the amount of the pure drug you traffic with the smallest specified ‘trafficable’ or ‘commercial’ or ‘large commercial’ quantity.

For example if you traffic 20g of heroin and the trafficable quantity is 25g the prosecution will divide 20g by 25g to give a fraction of 4/5. If you are also found trafficking 15g of ice where the trafficable quantity is 25g the prosecution will divide 15 by 25 to give a fraction of 3/5. The prosecution would then add 4/5 plus 3/5 to give 7/5 or 1&2/5 which is greater than 1. So you would be charged with a single offence of trafficking a trafficable quantity of a controlled drug, even though separately the quantities were each less than the trafficable quantity.

Does the harm of the drug matter?

No. The perceived harm potential of a drug is NOT relevant to determining which offence you will be charged with (or the quantity you were alleged to traffic). A court might take your motives and aggravating circumstances (see ‘Aggravating circumstances’ section below) into account when sentencing you for an offence, but certain controlled drugs should not be treated as more or less harmful than others.

For example, if you possess 5g of heroin, and your friend possesses 5g of cocaine in the same circumstances, you should both be subject to the same charge of trafficking and receive a similar penalty. You should not be punished more severely for possessing drugs like heroin or ice, which are considered to be ‘really harmful’, ‘more evil’ or ‘harder drugs’ than for ‘party drugs’ like cocaine or ecstasy.

You should not be punished more severely for some drugs than for others based only on a ‘scale’ of the perceived harm of different drugs.

General charges for being involved in a drug offence

Generally, if you help or assist someone else to plan or carry out a drug offence, you are also committing an offence by being involved. You can be charged with:

  • taking part in an offence if you are involved in the offence, even if you don't make any profit from the offence (e.g., you pack or transport or manufacture or cultivate an illegal drug or plant; or provide finance or direction for the offence);
  • being an accessory to an offence if you are involved in the offence without directly handling or dealing with the drugs (e.g., by being security or a guard or a look out for a drug deal);
  • aiding and abetting or inciting an offence if you encourage or induce or provide incentives for a person to commit a drug offence (e.g., tell someone they can use your shed to grow cannabis in); or
  • conspiracy to commit, or attempting to commit an offence if you intend to, or plan, or make preparations, or try to commit an offence.

Generally police will not charge you with additional charges such as being an accessory to supply if you are a user and arrange to score off a dealer for your own use. However you can still be charged with possession or trafficking depending on how much you buy and where you buy it.

It is an offence to possess a controlled drug or plant, unless the controlled drug or plant has been lawfully prescribed or supplied.

Proving possession

There are three elements relevant to proving possession: knowledge, custody and control:

  • Knowledge means that you must know that the substance is a drug and that it is in your custody;
  • Custody usually means having the drugs in your physical possession (for example, in your pocket or wallet or under your pillow). However, custody can also extend to include such places as your house or car;
  • Control means that you have the right to do something with the drugs (for example, keep or use them).


Knowledge that a drug is in your possession can be inferred from the circumstances. That is, if you have a drug in your pocket or in your room, the Court will infer you knew what it was.

Knowledge can be based on personal observation or information from another person. In other circumstances it does not have to be firm or absolutely certain. In some cases, awareness that something is highly likely to be a drug, or proof that there was a real and significant chance that a substance was a drug is enough to demonstrate knowledge.

There will be circumstances where, if you don't admit to owning the drugs or knowing about them, possession will be difficult to prove to the court as required by the law.

Do not admit to possessing drugs without speaking to a lawyer!

Custody and joint possession

In other States and Territories if you live in a shared house and get caught with drugs in a common area like the kitchen or lounge room, it may be difficult for police to establish exactly who owned had custody or control of the drugs, unless people make admissions.

However it is not impossible for police to prove that possession was jointly held because of the rule that possession is deemed if a person has order or disposition of the drugs under a joint arrangement, where you and your flatmates have a stash that you all have access to. Tasmania has deemed possession laws which means that shared drugs can be easily attributed to people who have any form of control even if it is not exclusive.

Custody and deemed possession

In Tasmania you can be charged with possession of a controlled drug if:

  • the drug is physically located anywhere on land or premises occupied by you;
  • the drug is enjoyed ('used') by you in any place
  • the drug is in your “order or disposition”.

Having order or disposition of drugs means that you have custody and control of the drugs. Effectively, this law rules out the requirement of knowledge as to the nature of the substance if you are proved to have custody and control. It is not necessary in Tasmania to show you knew you had an illegal drug. This means that you can still be charged and convicted if you didn't have knowledge about the presence of drugs on your premises.

This rule is called ‘deemed possession'. It creates a presumption which will mean that if police find any drugs in your property or premises the court will automatically believe the drugs are yours unless you can prove that you didn't know about them.

This means it will be much harder for you to prove to the Court that drugs weren't in your possession if they are in your house or shed or garden, even if they are shared, or belong to someone else.

If you are caught with larger amounts of drugs you will be deemed to possess the drugs for the purpose of supplying or selling them, which means you will automatically face much higher penalties, unless you can prove that the drugs were for your own use, which may be hard.

See the supply section for penalties you may face if you are in possession of more than a small amount of controlled drugs or plants.

Possession without physical custody

In some circumstances it may be possible to find you in possession of a drug even if it was not physically in your custody. For example if you know you have a package of drugs waiting for you in the post office which only you can pick up that will be enough to establish possession because you are the only person who can obtain the drugs.

If you have drugs in a bag or coat pocket which you check into a cloak room outside a club, you can still be found to be in possession, because you would be the only person with knowledge of the drug and the ability to control it when you retrieved your bag or coat. A conviction in these circumstances is possible, but it would be difficult for the prosecution to rule out the possibility that someone else had planted drugs there.

Similarly, if police find drugs under the tarp in your ute tray, or locked in the boot of your car, but you don't have the keys with you at that time, police may not be able to show that you had custody and control.

You can be charged with possession if you hid a drug somewhere and forgot about it. The police do not have to prove you knew exactly where the drugs were for them to be found in your possession.


Control may be proved if there is evidence that a person had done or intended to do something with a drug. If someone leaves drugs on your balcony or in your car and police see you throwing the drugs away this might be enough evidence that you exercised control over the drugs.

However, if someone leaves drugs in your house after a party and you know they are there but police cannot prove that you ever did anything or intended to do anything with the drugs, except throw them out, possession might not be proved.

Temporary possession

Possession can be found even if it is momentary or temporary. If you get passed a joint from someone you can be found to be in possession of the joint.

If you are looking after drugs for someone else, you can still be found guilty of possession, because the drugs are in your custody and control. However, if you can prove that the possession was temporary and that you intended to return the drugs to their actual owner, you might not be convicted of possession. This is known as the ‘Carey defence'.

Possession of a drug (for your own personal use) is a summary offence, which means it is dealt with by the Local Court or Children’s Court.

                Maximum penalty: $7,850 (50 p.u.) or 2 years imprisonment.[1]


[1] s 24 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

Use (self-administration) or attempted use of a controlled drug is an offence.

 It is also an offence to administer drugs which you have obtained lawfully, such as prescription drugs like codeine, Valium (diazepam), Dexamphetamine, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine and methadone without following the doctor's or pharmacist's directions for use. This means that it is illegal to inject methadone, because prescriptions for methadone are based on an oral dose. It is also an offence to ask another person to administer a prohibited drug to you, whether by injection or oral dose or any other method.

                Maximum penalty: $7,850 (50 p.u.)  or imprisonment for 2 years.[1]

Charges of self-administration are difficult to prove without someone making an admission combined with some other evidence (for example, evidence of prior drug use or knowledge about drugs). Sometimes the police don’t bother to charge people with self-administration, even if an admission has been made. However, you should be careful of what you say to the police.

If, for example, you meet police on your way home after smoking a joint in the park and they ask you if you have been smoking, don't admit to it. This would give police the reasonable suspicion that you are in possession and they need to search you. If they find some cannabis on you that might give them grounds to get a warrant to search your house. Admitting that you have used drugs recently can quickly lead to more serious drug charges.

Do not admit to possessing drugs without speaking to a lawyer!

In Tasmania if you administer a drug to another person with you could be charged with the offence of supply. In Tasmania supply has a different meaning to other states. Supplying in Tasmania means to administer a controlled drug or plant to someone else. It also includes offering or agreeing to administer yourself or someone else. Administration can include taking a drug orally or by inhaling or ingesting smoke or injecting a drug This means it is illegal to inject another person even if they have asked you to or given you consent.

Supplying a controlled drug or controlled plant to another person is an offence.

                Maximum Penalty: $ 15,700 (100 p.u.) or 4 years imprisonment.[2]

If you administer a prohibited drug to another person who subsequently dies from an overdose (‘OD') you could be charged with manslaughter. Nevertheless if you are using with someone who overdoses you should call an ambulance. Police have guidelines about attendance at overdoses to ensure that people who overdose or witness an OD are not discouraged from seeking medical assistance.

Police will not normally attend an overdose unless:

  • they are requested to do so by ambulance paramedics or medical personnel (because ambulance officers cannot control people present at the scene or due to a threat of violence);
  • a death has occurred or there are suspicious circumstances (like attempted murder), or
  • they were the first on the scene or another person or bystander called the police separately.

Police guidelines direct police who do attend an overdose to use their discretion not to charge people at the scene or the person who overdoses with administration or other minor drug offences such as possession.

[1] s 24 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

[2] s 26 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

It is an offence in Tasmania to obtain or attempt to obtain prescription drugs by lying or making false representations including by forging or altering a prescription.

                Maximum penalty: $7850 (50 p.u.)  or imprisonment for 2 years.[1]

[1] s 28 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

It is an offence to supply or sell a controlled drug or plant.

As noted in the administration section above, in Tasmania supplying has a different meaning than in other Australian states.

Supplying is defined as an act of administering a substance either orally or by injecting or otherwise. It includes offering to help someone else get or take drugs.

Selling has a very broad definition and you could be guilty of an offence even if no drugs or money change hands.

Selling can include:

  • offering or agreeing to sell drugs, even if no deal ever takes place;
  • being knowingly concerned in selling drugs, for example, introducing someone to a dealer;
  • selling a legal substance which you claim is a prohibited drug, for example, selling aspirin and passing it off as heroin;
  • helping someone else take a drug;
  • pooling money and splitting up purchased drugs between the group of buyers; or
  • having drugs in your possession for the purpose of selling those drugs.

If you are caught with drugs in your possession, police are more likely to charge you with selling if they find things like scales, deal bags, and cash.

Because sharing a deal or helping someone score is part of drug-using culture, many users act as suppliers from time to time. A charge of selling can even rest on an offer to score on another person’s behalf or sharing your gear with other people. There are also a number of other charges that can be made in relation to selling and supply, including participating in supply and attempt or conspiracy to sell.

Selling or supplying a controlled drug or controlled plant is an offence.

                Maximum Penalty: $15,700 (100 p.u.) or 4 years imprisonment.[1]

If you have more than the “trafficable quantity” of a drug, you may be charged with “deemed trafficking”. The court will automatically assume that you intended to traffic the drugs. It will be up to you to prove that the drugs are not in your possession for the purpose of selling (e.g., they were for your own use or you were simply going to return them to their owner).

[1] s 26 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

It is an offence to sell, supply, prepare or transport a trafficable quantity of a controlled substance. Trafficking has a broad meaning in Tasmania. It covers any kind of activity associated with dealing or running a business selling drugs for commercial gain.

If you are found in possession of a trafficable quantity of drugs the court will automatically believe that you had an intention to sell the controlled plant or substance, or that you believed that another person intended to sell the substance.

Trafficking includes:

  • selling the substance;
  • preparing, packaging or separating the substance;
  • transporting or delivering the substance;
  • guarding or concealing the substance;
  • possessing the substance; or
  • importing the substance into Tasmania.

Trafficking a trafficable quantity of a controlled substance or plant -

                Maximum penalty: 21 years imprisonment.[1]


Trafficable mixed quantity



Maximum Penalty:  21 years imprisonment


1000g or 20 packages

Cannabis plants

20 plants

Cannabis oil


Cannabis resin


Amphetamine (speed)

25g or 20 doses

Dexamphetamine (Dexies)





25g or 20 doses


25g or 20 packages

Methamphetamine (Ice)

25g or 20 packages




25g or 20 packages


0.0002g or 20 doses


25g or 20 doses

Psilocin (Magic Mushrooms)

5g or 20 doses


5g or 20 doses

[1] s 12 Misuse of Drugs Act 2001

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