In Victoria the use of a Drug of Dependence Without Authority is a crime
Using or attempting to use a drug of dependence without authority or license is considered as a crime in Victoria and punishable under Section 75 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981.
It is the same law that enumerates the different drugs of dependence which includes ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, heroin and the most common, cannabis. A drug of dependence also includes those that could be prescribed by a medical practitioner but for which the accused does not have a prescription.
The penalties differ with respect to the drugs used. If the drug used or attempted to be used by the accused is cannabis or tetrahydrocannabinol the penalty is 5 penalty units. An accused who subsequently uses cannabis will just receive penalty units but no penalty of imprisonment. With respect to all other drugs, the accused is liable to imprisonment for 1 year, a penalty of 30 penalty units or both.
This type of crime is a summary offense and it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the following elements:
- The accused used a substance;
- The substance was one of those prohibited under the Act;
- The accused used the substance knowingly which means that the accused knew the substance he is using is prohibited and despite that he still uses it.
The defence of an accused may primarily revolve around the third element by proving lack of knowledge. The accused may also interpose the defence that the drug he used was with a prescription from a medical practitioner. Actually, whether a person is authorized to use a drug is one of the questions the police will be asking in their investigation.
The government of Victoria punishes offenders but also seeks to rehabilitate them by providing support programs geared at helping offenders overcome their drug dependency.
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Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.