Specifically in Sydney. I’m wondering if it’s also illegal to be “high”, or if it is only illegal to “possess” prohibited substances?

Clearly hopping on the darkweb and ordering an ounce of green or a sheet of blotters would be possession, and therefore illegal. Whereas if a third party offers me a choof on a jay, or a cap of molly, or a tab of acid, am I within my legal rights to accept and enjoy myself? Or is it a crime even to be under the influence of these substances at all?

Similarly, while it is illegal to sell these substances, is it illegal to purchase them in small quantities for immediate use (for example buying a pinger at a rave and immediately dropping and rolling)? Again I’m talking Sydney NSW.

In short: is it also a crime to use prohibited substances, or only a crime to possess them? What about purchasing and immediately consuming (which would seem to me to fit the definition of “using” but not “possessing” contraband substance, and therefore might be legal)

1 Answer 1


The relevant provision is s10(a) of the Drug Misuse and Traffic Act 1985:

A person who has a prohibited drug in his or her possession is guilty of an offence.

There are a number of exemptions under s10(b) but let’s assume they don’t apply.

So, if you can come up with a way to get the effect of a drug without ever possessing it you’re good to go. But you can’t - having it inside your bloodstream is possessing it.

  • 3
    I'd like to know if you have a specific court precedent that says "in your bloodstream" counts as "you possess it". Dec 24, 2018 at 4:42
  • Even if it doesn’t, it must have passed into your possession to get into your bloodstream
    – Dale M
    Dec 24, 2018 at 8:21
  • That's different. "Having it in your bloodstream reasonably implies you were in possession of it" is not the same as "having it in your bloodstream means you are in possession of it." The first you might have a counter defense to depending on particulars and jurisdiction (you were assaulted and it was forcibly or unwittingly put into your body, say; "I didn't know the injection had steroids"). The second is more of a strict liability matter with little in the way of defense: it doesn't matter how it got there, that it's there already establishes possession and criminal liability. Dec 25, 2018 at 4:38
  • What if you passively smoke marijuana?
    – CJ Dennis
    Jan 12, 2020 at 3:49

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