What is Drug Supply?

by Ugur Nedim

If you are charged with drug supply, the maximum applicable penalty will vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug, and whether your case remains in the Local Court or is finalised in a higher court such as the District Court.

Being charged with supplying drugs generally means much more severe penalties than if you are found guilty of possessing an illegal drug for your own personal use.

What is the difference between supply and possession?

Drug possession is generally where you are found with less than the ‘traffickable’ quantity of a prohibited drug, and there is no evidence of supply.

The charge of drug supply is usually used when drugs are found in larger quantities, or where there is evidence that you were actually involved in the process of supply drugs to another person or person.

The charge of’ deemed drug supply’ can be brought where you possess more than the traffickable quantity of a drug, even if there is no evidence you were actually supplying the drug.

The traffickable quantity of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and ‘speed’ is 3 grams.

The traffickable quantity of MDMA or ‘ecstacy’ is 0.75 grams.

If a charge of deemed supply is brought, it will be up to you to establish that the drugs were possessed for something other than supply – eg for personal use only.


The maximum penalty for drug possession is two years in prison and/or a $2,200 fine.

The maximum penalties for drug supply are as follows:

  Where the amount is… The maximum penalty is…
Less than a small quantity <0.25g of MDMA/ecstasy<1g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<30g of cannabis 2 years imprisonment and/or a $5500 fine if your matter is finalised in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine if it is finalised in a higher court.
Less than an indictable quantity <1.25g of MDMA/ecstasy<5g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<1kg of cannabis 2 years imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine if your matter is finalised in the Local Court or 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine if your matter is finalised in a higher court.
Less than a commercial quantity <125g of MDMA/ecstasy<250g of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<25kg of cannabis 15 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.
Less than a large commercial quantity






Large commercial quantity

<500g of MDMA<1kg of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin<100kg of cannabis





>500g of MDMA>1kg of amphetamines, cocaine or heroin>100kg of cannabis

20 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.


Life imprisonment and/or $550,000 fine. Can only be heard in higher courts.

The definition of drug supply comprises “knowingly taking part in” a wide range of activities involved in the distribution, provision and/or sale of prohibited drugs.What does drug supply include?

Drug supply can include supplying drugs to friends without payment, sending drugs in the post, and being part of a group of people buying drugs with combined funds, selling them and splitting the proceeds.

Even if a drug that you supply doesn’t contain an illicit substance, if you have represented it as an illegal drug you can still be charged and convicted of drug supply.

Drug supply doesn’t include temporarily holding drugs for the owner with a view to giving it back to them or giving drug to someone to hold for you.

For a conviction of actual drug supply to be successful, there are a number of different factors that must be in place.

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you participated in:

  • Providing a substance to another person.
  • That the substance was a prohibited drug. Even if just a portion of the drug was an illicit substance, it is still classified as an illegal drug.
  • That you did this knowingly or believed at the time that you were supplying an illegal drug.

The severity of the offence and the likely penalty for drug supply will depend on the quantities of drugs involved.

There are predetermined quantities that have different penalties, ranging up to life imprisonment for large commercial quantities.

Charges for small quantities of supply can be heard in the local court, where there is a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Larger quantities (more than the ‘indictable quantity) can only be dealt with in the higher courts, where there are higher maximum penalties.

Drug supply charges come with severe penalties so it is important to seek experienced criminal lawyer if you have been charged.

A criminal defence lawyer with a proven track record of successfully defending drug supply charges can help you to have charges dropped, downgraded or thrown out of court, or to receive the most lenient penalty (or even no criminal record at all) if you wish to plead guilty.


Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with over 20 years of experience as a criminal defence lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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