Before 2014, the possession of drugs classified as anabolic steroids was primarily regulated by the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966, which dealt with the substances in much the same way as other prescription drugs.
However in 2014, the NSW government reclassified the drugs as narcotics which brought the penalties in line with drugs like heroin, methamphetamines and cocaine.
This effectively increased the maximum penalties for a range of offences relating to steroids.
Which drugs are classified as steroids?
The Crimes and Other Legislation Amendment (Assault and Intoxication) Act 2014 No 2 inserted a list of drugs into the schedule of narcotics contained in Schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985.
The prohibited drugs comprise all “Anabolic and androgenic steroidal agents, other than in implant preparations for use in animals”.
The following drugs are specifically named in Schedule 1:
Atamestane, Bolandiol, Bolasterone, Bolazine, Boldenone, Boldenone, Calusterone, Chlorandrostenolone, Clostebol, Danazol, Dihydrolone, Dimethandrostanolone, Drostanolone, Enestebol, Ethyldienolone, Ethyloestrenol, Fluoxymesterone, Formebolone, Furazabol, Hydroxystenozol, Mebolazine, Mepitiostane, Mesabolone, Mestanolone, Methandienone, Methandriol, Methenolone, Methylclostebol, Methyltestosterone, Methyltrienolone, Metribolone, Mibolerone, Nandrolone, Norandrostenolone, Norbolethone, Norclostebol, Norethandrolone, Normethandrone, Ovandrotone, Oxabolone, Oxandrolone, Oxymesterone, Oxymetholone, Prasterone, (dehydroepiandrosterone (dhea) or dehydroisoandrosterone (dhia)), Propetandrol, Quinbolone, Roxibolone, Silandrone, Stanolone, Stanozolol, Stenbolone, Testolactone, Testosterone (other than in implant preparations for use in animals) Trenbolone (other than in implant preparations for use in animals) and Trestolone.
Growth hormone releasing peptides are also prohibited.
What are the penalties for steroid offences?
As a result of the new classification, the following maximum penalties apply under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act:
|Offence||Where the weight is:||The maximum penalty is:|
|Drug possession||Any||2 years in prison and/or a $2,200 fine|
|Supply not more than a small quantity||Not more than 50 grams||2 years in prison and/or a $5500 fine if the matter remains in the Local Court or 15 years and/or a $220,000 fine if finalised in a higher court|
|Supply not more than a traffickable quantity||Not more than 500 grams||2 years in prison and/or a $11,000 fine if the matter remains in the Local Court or 15 years and/or a $220,000 fine if finalised in a higher court|
|Supply not more than an indictable quantity||Not more than 750 grams||2 years in prison and/or an $11,000 fine if the matter remains in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine if finalised in a higher court|
|Supply not more than the commercial quantity||Not more than 5 kilograms||15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine|
|Supply more than the commercial quantity||More than 5 kilograms||20 years imprisonment and/or a $385,000 fine|
|Supply drug on an ‘ongoing basis’||Any||20 years imprisonment and/or a $385,000 fine|
Supply drug on an ongoing basis (also known as ongoing supply) is where a person supplies prohibited drugs or plants of any type on 3 or more occasions within a period of 30 consecutive days.
|Manufacture or production of not more than commercial quantity||Not more than 5 kilograms||15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine|
|Manufacture or production of more than commercial quantity||More than 5 kilograms||20 years imprisonment and/or a $385,000 fine|
|Forging or altering a prescription, or obtaining a prescription by false representations||Any||2 years in prison and/or a $2,200 fine|
It is important to bear in mind that these are maximum penalties only – the appropriate penalty in any given case (where a person pleads guilty or is found guilty) will depend on a wide range of factors.
Steroid importation – a Commonwealth Offence
“Specified performance enhancing drugs” are ‘tier 1’ goods under section 233BAA of the Customs Act 1901.
The maximum penalty for importing or exporting tier 1 goods without authorisation is 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $110,000.
Defences to steroid charges
Having a valid prescription is a complete defence to possessing steroid, provided the amount and type of drug possessed is consistent with the prescription.
Additional defences include duress, necessity and in supply cases the ‘Carey defence’ – where a supply charge can be reduced to drug possession if the drugs were briefly possessed with the intention of returning them to the owner.
How can a lawyer help?
An experienced criminal defence lawyer who specialises in drug cases can in assist in a number of ways, including:
- pushing for the withdrawal or downgrading of charges where the evidence is insufficient to prove guilt or where there is a valid defence.
If the case nevertheless proceeds, a lawyer can:
- negotiate to keep it in the Local Court where the penalties are lower, and
- fight to have the charges thrown out of court through establishing an illegal search, or by pointing out that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case or was unable to prove a particular legal requirement such as exclusive possession, or by raising a valid legal defence, or by arguing that the prosecution failed to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
In the event you wish to plead guilty, a good lawyer will be able to help prepare subjective materials and seek to persuade the magistrate or judge to impose a lenient penalty, or even not to record a criminal conviction at all.