Trafficking in a Controlled Drug: Commercial & Large Commercial Quantities

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In South Australia, there are three forms of “drug trafficking” that are determined on the quantity of the controlled drug that is alleged to have been detected; the differences in penalty, both in terms of maximum and the practical sentence that is likely to be imposed by a court, can vary immensely on the basis of these deeming provisions. The three broad categories, all determined by quantity are:

  1. Trafficable quantity;
  2. Commercial quantity; &
  3. Large commercial quantity

Given that a large commercial quantity offence carries a maximum term of life imprisonment, and is based on ‘deeming’ provisions relating to weight, it’s important to be aware of how this is determined. The Schedule to the Controlled Substances Act provides a thorough guide to the relevant amounts of a huge variety of drugs and the respective amounts required to be caught in one of the more serious categories. While the list is non-exhaustive, it include a great many lesser-known analogous or synthetic variants of more commonly known drugs. We set out the more common substances, and the relevant prohibited amounts, as follows:

Methylamphetamine: An impure quantity of 2 grams of Methylamphetamine will be deemed trafficable, while for a quantity to be commercial, 500 grams of a mixed or 100 grams pure form the threshold. The most serious offending, that of a large commercial quantity, starts at 750 grams of the drug in pure form or 1 kilogram of a mixed quantity.

Cocaine:  An amount of more than 2 grams of cocaine will be deemed to be a trafficable quantity, while 200 grams of mixed Cocaine or 100 grams of pure cocaine will be deemed a commercial quantity; similar to methamphetamine, 750 grams of pure cocaine and a kilogram of the mixed drug will be a large commercial quantity.

Ketamine: Has a high-threshold limit for trafficking, with six-grams being the relevant amount in a mixed quantity; there is no provision for a pure quantity, but 500 grams will be deemed commercial and two kilograms a large commercial quantity.

Ecstasy: MDMA, MDA & MDEA all have relevant thresholds of two grams mixed to be deemed trafficable, (this can include in tablet/pill form); 500 grams mixed and 100 grams pure for a commercial quantity and 1 kilogram mixed or 750 grams pure for a large commercial quantity. This could be said to be surprising given the relatively increased fatalities associated with non-MDMA variants.

Cannabis: Cannabis is treated somewhat difficulty; in terms of growing plants, then 10 plants is the minimum for a trafficable amount, with 20 being commercial and anything over 100 constituting a large commercial quantity. In terms of dried material (excluding resins and oils), 250 grams or more is required for an amount to be traffickable; 2 kilograms of mixed cannabis or 1 kilogram of pure cannabis will make up a commercial quantity and 12.5 kilograms of mixed or 2 kilograms of pure cannabis will constitute a large commercial quantity.

Multiple Drugs: The legislation provides for an algorithm to determine whether someone possessing smaller amounts of multiple proscribed drugs is guilty of an offence; generally, the method is to determine the fractional amount of each drug against the proscribed threshold amount. For example, someone possessing half a kilogram of cocaine, mixed, will have 50% of the large commercial quantity quota. If that person also has one kilogram of Ketamine, then they have another half of that quota. When multiplied, they have at least 100% of the quota and are deemed to be in possession of a large commercial quantity.

Trafficking in even small amounts of controlled drug will usually attract a sentence of imprisonment for at least 18 months for a first offence. If you’ve been charged with drug trafficking or worried that you may be deemed to have in your possession a trafficable amount of a controlled substance, Culshaw Miller Criminal Lawyers are available to provide advice and representation twenty-four hours a day. Tom Cuthbertson can be contacted on 0423 534 621, or telephone 08 8464 0033 to make an appointment today.