New drug regulations to better target traffickers

Released 10/04/2014


Police will be able to better target drug traffickers thanks to changes to drug regulations announced today.

The Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, will make a ministerial statement to the ACT Legislative Assembly today to outline these important changes

"The new regulations made by the Government change the trafficable quantities of the four most common drugs – heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy, and their associated substances," Mr Corbell said.

"The amounts ensure that serious drug offences target people who buy and sell illicit drugs to make a profit rather than people who buy drugs for personal use."

The Government has taken expert advice on determining the drug weights are indicative of trafficking rather than personal use.  The changes are vitally important so that law enforcement, and the serious penalties available (which extend up to life imprisonment), are directed to trafficking while making sure that personal drug use is not caught up in the net of the ACT's serious drug offences.

A second aspect of the reforms is moving to a mixed weight assessment of prohibited drug quantities.  This will make it more practical for police and prosecutors to enforce drug laws, as it is easier to determine the mixed weight of drugs a person has in their possession, rather than having to determine pure weight. This reflects the reality of how drugs are sold and used.

"Pure weight assessments require detailed and lengthy laboratory testing of drugs, which has resulted in court delays. The changes will do away with these delays.

"It also brings the ACT into line with other states and territories, with Queensland now the only jurisdiction to use pure grams to measure the quantity of drugs."

These key drug law reforms are the result of expert advice, input from key community organisations and close cooperation across ACT Government and with ACT Policing.

ACT Policing fully supports the reforms.

The Drug Policy Modelling Program at the University of New South Wales provided advice that current legal thresholds were not proportional to the seriousness of drug trafficking offences.

Trafficable quantities in the ACT are shown in the table below:



Current ACT trafficable quantity

(pure grams)

Current ACT trafficable quantity (converted to mixed grams)(a)


Proposed ACT trafficable quantity (mixed grams)


Effect of changes to trafficable quantity?


2 g

8.1 g

5 g



2 g

20 g

6 g



2 g

3.3 g

6 g


MDMA (ecstasy)

0.5 g

3.3 g

10 g



300 g (mixed)

300 g (mixed)

300 g (mixed)

No change

(a)    The drugs shown have been converted into 'mixed grams' based on the median 2010–11 retail purity in the ACT for seizures ≤2 grams (Australian Crime Commission 2012)

The Amendment Regulation also adds 44 new substances to the schedule of controlled drugs including synthetic cannabinoids, stimulants and hallucinogens being marketed as alternatives to traditional illicit drugs, under names such as Kronic, Bath Salts and N-Bomb.

"Many of these have been implicated in serious injuries and deaths, with N‑Bomb in particular believed to be responsible for the tragic death of a NSW teenager last year," Mr Corbell said.

"Including these substances in the Criminal Code Regulation will ensure the ACT controls new psychoactive substances and supports a nationally consistent approach to emerging psychoactive substances.

"The ACT's police and court drug diversion programs allow people who consume or purchase illicit drugs for personal use alone to be diverted into education and treatment and away from the criminal justice system, allowing resources to be focussed on more serious drug offenders.

"These reforms are evidence based. They are a well considered, well tested response to the realities of drug use in the ACT."

- Statement ends -

Section: Simon Corbell, MLA | Media Releases

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