Franky Bain

Managing Lawyer, Fitzroy Legal Service

Introduction to drug offences

Last updated

1 July 2021

This chapter outlines the most common drug offences and their penalties. This chapter does not deal with offences involving medical practitioners, chemists or licensed sellers of drugs.

Always seek legal help

The law concerning illegal drugs is complicated and highly technical. Therefore, anyone charged with a drug offence is strongly advised to seek legal advice (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).

Relevant laws

The law concerning illegal drugs in Victoria is derived from two main sources:

  • the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (‘DPCS Act’) as amended; and
  • the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (‘Criminal Code’) as amended.

The other laws that regulate drugs in Victoria are:

  • the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) (‘Customs Act’); and
  • the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988).

Together, these four pieces of legislation create state, federal and extra-territorial drug offence laws.


For the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, one penalty unit (pu) equals:

• $181.74 under Victorian state law

• $222 under Commonwealth law.

See ‘A note about penalty units’ at the start of this book.

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