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Presumption of sale

Trafficable quantity

A person in possession of more than a prescribed quantity (trafficable quantity) of a drug is assumed to have it to sell unless the person can prove it is for personal use only [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) s 32(5)].

The limits for commonly encountered substances are as follows:

Prohibited drug Trafficable quantity
cannabis 250 grams
cannabis resin (hashish) 25 grams
cannabis oil 25 grams
cocaine 2 grams
heroin 2 grams
LSD 0.015 grams
some forms of amphetamines 2 grams
MDMA 2 grams
opium 30 grams

See these and other quantaties in the Controlled Substances (Controlled Drugs, Precursors and Plants) Regulations 2014 (SA).

Ephedrine (sometimes sold as amphetamine) is not prohibited by this section but see: additional offences. It is however considered to be a precursor.

Presumption of sale

This assumes that anyone possessing more than a trafficable quantity is going to distribute it and not consume it all. However, the quantities are small and bear no relationship to the realities of narcotics addiction (the quantity for heroin is only 2 grams) or the yield of a cannabis plant (the quantity for cannabis is 250 grams).

Additional evidence of sale

Possession of items such as scales, sandwich bags, cash and separately packed quantities of drugs are regarded as additional evidence of selling or supplying. The 'deeming quantities' of drugs that bring this presumption into operation are, for practical purposes, the same as trafficable quantities as defined under the Customs Act 1901 (Cth).

Ordinary users, supply deeming provisions and sale

There is a separate offence of supplying someone with a controlled drug and supplying someone with cannabis, with lesser penalties than those for trafficking or sale [s 33I]. However, if the amount is over the deeming provision, then it is up to the person charged to prove this, as they will still be presumed to be selling.

For example, one heroin user who buys the drug for them and a friend, injects a friend or helps a friend to self inject is will be subject to the offence of supply, if the amount is under the deeming provision. If the amount is over the deeming provision, they will be charged with possession for sale, and will need to prove that it was for supply, not sale. Past experience suggests that to share a cannabis cigarette does not mean the provider is a supplier, but any suggestion that another person was to share in future use of the drug may put the person then in possession at risk of a supply charge.

Compensation for Victims  :  Last Revised: Fri Feb 8th 2019
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