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Prosecution: combining drugs or precursors

The Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) enables charges to be brought on the basis of combined quantities of drugs or combined amounts of precursors in certain situations under Division 311, Section 311.1. So, separate trafficking (selling) transactions on the same occasion may be charged together. Quantities of drugs imported or trafficked or quantities of precursors that are pre-trafficked, on different occasions, can be charged together where it can be shown that the person is carrying on a business. Quantities of drugs or quantities of precursors can also be charged together when there are frequent offences involving smaller quantities.

Provisions in the Criminal Code contain restrictions as to what may be combined in a charge. Selling (i.e. trafficking) smaller parcels of drugs requires each transaction to be within seven days of another, and where several importations are involved they must be within 30 days of each other. The prosecution is required to make clear that it intends to rely on these provisions and a description of the conduct alleged must be set out in the charge or provided to the accused within a reasonable time before the proceedings.

There are also provisions for combining different types of drugs. For example, an accused who sells half a commercial quantity of heroin and half a commercial quantity of cocaine can be prosecuted for trafficking a commercial quantity of controlled drugs.

Traffickable, Marketable and Commercial Quantities

Traffickable quantities are the smallest quantities, and carry the least penalty. These are small amounts of a drug, such as might be sold in one transaction. Marketable quantities are middling quantities, indicative of a person in possession being a middle man but not necessarily a manufacturer. Commercial quantities are manufacturing quantities, such as might be seized in a lab. It is also possible for a person to be carrying this amount on them in an import/export situation. This would not indicate manufacture, but the penalty for carrying such large quantities is much harsher.

The Criminal Code contains a table of the various border controlled drugs, noting their traffickable, marketable, and commercial quantities. There are also tables of border controlled plants and border controlled precursors.

There are three other tables of controlled drugs, controlled plants and the third of controlled precursors.

For example, methamphetamine is a traffickable quantity at 2.0 grams as both a controlled and border controlled drug. It is a marketable quantity up to and including 250.0 grams, and it is a commercial quantity up to, including and over .75 kilos, or 750 grams.

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