The Legal Implications of Self Administration

Unfortunately a lot of people think that it is not illegal use or buy illicit drugs, just to possess or supply them. This is a myth and it is not true. While more often than not, people are charged with drug possession and supply offences because they are easier for police to prove, there is a separate offence that you can be charged with and that is self administration.

Using an illegal or illicit drug is a criminal offence and it is known as self-administration. Self administration is an offence under section 12 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act. The police must prove that the substance you consumed was a prohibited drug. This can be difficult to prove as a drug that has been consumed cannot now be analysed by police. Blood tests can only be taken by a doctor after your arrest. So for most charges of self administration to stick police must rely on people admitting to self administration. It is also an offence to administer drugs to someone else, for example by injecting them (section 13 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act), or to allow someone to administer drugs to you (section 14 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act).

What should I do If I am caught with drug using paraphernalia

You should never admit to having used drug paraphernalia for the consumption of an illicit drug or for the administering of illicit drug to someone else. Most convictions of self administration are based on people admitting to consuming an illicit drug. It is not illegal to carry used injecting equipment, just tell them you are returning them to needle exchange or pharmacy for safe disposal. Remember it is not illegal to carry sterile injecting equipment either.

What to do if I am stopped by police?

The best advice if you are stopped, searched or questioned by police is to stay calm be polite. You are entitled to ask the police officer for their name, rank and place of duty and to ask them to explain the nature of the offence they suspect you of committing. If you feel they have targeted you unfairly then you have the right to make a complaint. You can complain to the NSW Ombudsman or the Local Area Commander or NSW Police Customer Assistance Line 1800 622 571.

Where can I find out more information about my rights?

There are plenty of useful websites you can find more information or get free legal advice from. These include: 

Lawstuff know your rights

Community Legal Centres

Shopfront Youth Legal Centre

Aboriginal Legal Service

Legal Aid