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. However, their use may be restricted based on age, location of use, driving and point-of-sale regulations.

The active ingredients in legal drugs can be regulated and controlled, for instance, 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 not legal. They aren’t subject to quality or price controls and the amount of active ingredient in them isn’t 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 contain different amounts of the drug and other unidentified additives.


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

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.