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Australian Drug Laws

A variety of state and federal laws regulate most drugs, although some drugs are not regulated at all

A drug can be purchased legally in Australia if:

  • the drug is not regulated by Australian law,
  • a regulated drug is classified as one that can be sold without a prescription, or
  • the purchaser has a valid prescription for the drug.

Some drugs cannot be legally sold, purchased, or possessed in Australia. How the drug is classified determines whether it is legal to purchase or possess the drug.

Regulated Drugs

Examples of regulated drugs that can be purchased without a prescription include:

  • Alcohol. State laws usually determine when and where alcohol can be sold and consumed and who is eligible to purchase it. State laws also regulate driving after consuming alcohol.
  • Tobacco. State and federal laws make it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. State and local laws may regulate or prohibit the use of tobacco in public or private places.
  • Over-the-counter medications. Medications that can be purchased without a medication are regulated to assure that they are manufactured to acceptable standards. Those regulations rarely have a direct impact on consumers, who are free to purchase and use the drugs without prescriptions or restrictions.

Prescription Drugs

Many drugs require a prescription. It is illegal to possess those drugs without a valid prescription. Examples of prescription drugs that are subject to abuse include:

  • Oxycodone.
  • Methadone.
  • Amphetamines.
  • Xanax and related drugs.
  • Steroids.
  • “Smart drugs” such as modafinil or methylphenidate.
  • Ketamine.
  • Kava.

Illegal Drugs

Some drugs are not available by prescription and cannot be legally possessed. Examples include:

  • Heroin.
  • Methamphetamine.
  • Cocaine (unless administered by a doctor or dentist).
  • Ecstasy.
  • LSD.
  • Cannabis.

Legal Drugs

Some substances, such as most herbal medications, are legal to possess because they are not classified as drugs or poisons. Regulation relates only to labeling and advertising claims that do not directly affect purchasers, who are free to use the substances as they please.

Legal substances that are generally considered to be drugs include:

  • Inhalants. While no Australian state or territory makes it illegal to possess an inhalant, some states and local governments have empowered the police to take inhalants away or to take minors to a responsible person if they appear to have been using inhalants. Some governments have also criminalized the sale of inhalants if the seller knows that the buyer intends to use them as inhalants.
  • Some forms of synthetic cannabis. “Designer” cannabis has challenged lawmakers, since classifying a particular substance as a drug prompts the designers to alter the chemical composition slightly, defeating the prohibition. It is difficult for buyers to know whether a particular form of synthetic cannabis is or is not illegal. In addition, some states and territories are enacting broad laws that purport to criminalize the possession of anything that has the same effect as cannabis unless it is alcohol or a food product. The effectiveness and enforceability of those laws is not yet clear.

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.

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