Which Drugs Are Illegal?

Drug use in NSW is an ongoing political issue, but how does it affect you when it comes to the law? In our previous blog, we explored the different types of drug offences in NSW – including common illicit drugs and offences you may be charged with. For this blog, we’ll examine what makes a drug illegal and how the weight system affects potential criminal charges.

Are there legal drugs?

It may surprise you to know that you encounter legal drugs often. Legal drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Over-the-counter & prescription drugs

While these drugs are legal to purchase, there are certain restrictions relating to age, location of use, driving and how they are sold. For example, alcohol is not legal for minors (under 18) and prescription drugs may only be sold to persons holding a legal prescription. If some drugs are considered legal, what makes a drug illegal?

Read our past blog – ‘Roadside Drug Testing: Your Rights & Responsibilities

Defining illegal drugs

Illegal drugs are ones which have been banned because they may endanger your health, your life or the life of others. When we refer to illicit drug use, we are referring to the use of a banned substance or the misuse of a legal substance.

Common illegal drugs include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin

Legal and illegal substances and their use is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia. Each state and territory have their own unique guidelines and it is important to note that if you come under criminal suspicion, you will be charged according to local laws.

The weight system in NSW

There are four common drug charges in NSW – use, possession, cultivation and supply/trafficking. Depending on the weight of the drugs involved, the charges may become more serious. Two examples of this weight system are below:

For trafficking:

  Indictable Commercial Large Commercial
Cannabis (leaf/heads) 1kg 25kg 100kg
Heroin 5g 250g 1kg
Amphetamine 5g 250g 1kg
Ecstasy 5g or 25 tabs 0.5kg 2kg


For cultivation: (primarily cannabis)

  Small Indictable Commercial Large Commercial
Indoor 5 plants 50 plants 50 plants 200 plants
Outdoor 5 plants 50 plants 250 plants 1,000 plants


What’s clear from this brief summary, is that the laws regarding illegal drugs are highly complex. If you find yourself accused of a drug offence, your best option is to seek advice from one our qualified drug lawyers as soon as possible.

A strong defence from our drug lawyers in Sydney

Powerhouse Law are a Sydney-based team of professional lawyers with extensive experience in NSW criminal and drug law. For a free initial consultation, contact our team 24/7 on 1800 100 529 or via our online form.

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