The law

Close shot beer glass with beer

Legal drugs

Some drugs, such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and various prescribed and over-the-counter medications, are legal but may be subject to restrictions based on age, location of use, driving and point of sale regulations.

The active ingredients in legal drugs can be regulated and controlled; the alcohol content of drinks or the milligrams of nicotine in cigarettes.

Close shot crystal methamphetamine

Illegal drugs

Other drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, are illegal. They are not subject to quality or price controls and the amount of active ingredient is not consistent. A person using illegal drugs can never be sure of how strong the drug is, or what is actually in it.

Different batches of an illegally manufactured drug may have different amounts of the drug and other unidentified additives.


Federal and state laws provide penalties for possessing, using, producing, selling or driving under the influence of illicit drugs. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, rehabilitation orders and disqualification from driving.

Some states and territories have programs that refer people with a dependence on alcohol or other drugs to treatment and/or education programs where they can receive help rather than going through the criminal justice system.

For information regarding drug laws in your state or territory visit Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League.