What is Drug Manufacture and Production?

Manufacture and production of a Prohibited Drug is a crime in New South Wales under section 24 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (the Act) which states:

“A person who manufactures or produces, or who knowingly takes part in manufacture or production of, a prohibited drug is guilty of an offence.”

Manufacture and production of Prohibited Drugs is one of the most serious drug offences in NSW.

Schedule 1 of the Act contains an exhaustive list of all Prohibited Drugs in NSW. Some drugs are always prohibited (e.g. Cocaine), but some are prohibited unless properly prescribed to you (e.g. Methadone). A Prohibited Drug cut or mixed with a legal substance is still a Prohibited Drug – the purity of the drug is not relevant.

“Manufacture” is widely defined in section 36ZD of the Act to include:

  • make up
  • prepare
  • produce
  • process
  • package
  • label

“Knowingly takes part” also has a wide definition. It means taking, or participating in, any step in the process of manufacture, cultivation or supply. It also includes causing a step in the process to be taken (e.g. by telling someone else to do it). Your knowledge can be inferred from the circumstances, but the police need to prove that you more than just “suspected” that you were taking part in drug production and manufacture.

“Take part” also includes providing finances, or permitting a step in the process to take place at your premises.

Section 24A of the Act also makes it an offence to possess a “precursor” (a substance which can be used to make a Prohibited Drug, e.g. Pseudoephedrine to be used to make MDMA) or an “apparatus” (an object that is used to make a Prohibited Drug, e.g. a pill press). There is a list of precursors and apparatuses in the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Regulation 2011.

Examples of Drug Manufacture and Production:

  • Taking part in the manufacture or production of a prohibited drug.
  • Paying people to manufacture or produce prohibited drugs at a makeshift drug laboratory.
  • Knowing that your tenant at your rental property is making prohibited drugs at the property, and not doing anything about it.

What the Prosecution need to prove:

For you to be found guilty of Manufacture of a Prohibited Drug, the Police and Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. You manufactured the Prohibited Drug; OR
  2. You produced the Prohibited Drug; OR
  3. You were aware of and took part in manufacturing or producing the Prohibited Drug; AND
  4. The drug is a Prohibited Drug.

Prohibited Drugs and their quantities:

Your exact charge will depend on the type and quantity of the Prohibited Drug. You can be charged with supply of a Small Quantity, Indictable Quantity, Commercial Quantity or Large Commercial Quantity of a Prohibited Drug. The relevant quantity changes depending on the drug. Check out: Quantities of Prohibited Drugs.

Which Court will your Drug Manufacture and Production case be heard in?

A Drug Manufacture case can be heard in either the Local, District of Supreme Courts of New South Wales. Your Court depends on the quantity of the Prohibited Drug you have been charged with supplying. If you are charged with manufacture of less than the Indicatable Quantity, your matter will be heard in the Local Court or District Court. If you are charged with manufacture of more than the Indictable Quantity, your matter will be heard in the District Court or Supreme Court.

Small Quantity, or lessMore than Small Quantity but less than Indictable QuantityMore than Indictable Quantity but less than Commercial QuantityCommercial Quantity or more, but less than Large Commercial QuantityLarge Commercial Quantity
Usually in the Local Court, but may be heard in the District CourtUsually in the Local Court, but may be heard in the District CourtLocal Court or District CourtDistrict Court.District Court.

Defences to the charge of Manufacture or Production of a Prohibited Drug:

  • The Prosecution cannot prove the elements of the offence of Manufacture or Production of a Prohibited Drug.
  • The drug was not a Prohibited Drug.
  • You did not actually manufacture the drug, but just prepared to.
  • The substances you used were not able to produce a Prohibited Drug.
  • You possessed a precursor, but have a legitimate use for it.
  • You acted under Duress.
  • You acted out of Necessity.
  • You have a licence for Supply of the Prohibited Drug under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966.
  • You are in possession of poppy plant parts, and have a Poppy Licence under the Poppy Industry Act 2016.
  • You have an authority from the Department of Health and supply the Prohibited Drug for a scientific research purpose.

Maximum sentences for Manufacture or Production of a Prohibited Drug charges:

Maximum sentences depend on the quantity of the Prohibited Drug you have been charged with manufacturing and the court your case is heard in. Check out: Maximum Sentences for Manufacture of a Prohibited Drug Charges.

Don’t panic. Maximum sentences are usually reserved for the worst type of offending, when a defendant has a long criminal history. If you decide to plead guilty to a charge of Prohibited Drug offence, your lawyer will help you identify mitigating factors the sentencing court will take into account. For more on likely sentencing considerations and outcomes for Manufacture and Production of a Prohibited Drug offence in your circumstances, see our sentencing information.

Guess what:

You don’t actually need to be involved in the manufacture or production of the Prohibited Drug yourself… allowing your friends to use your house to plan the manufacture of a prohibited drug falls under the definition of “take part”.

See also:

Possession of Prohibited Drugs
Supply of Prohibited Drugs
Prohibited Drug Quantities
Maximum Sentences for Drug Supply Charges
Maximum Sentences for Drug Manufacture and Production Charges

Facing Court for Drug Manufacture and Production?
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