Trafficking in a Dangerous Drug

The offence of trafficking in dangerous drugs in Queensland is a very serious one. A conviction for trafficking almost always carries with it a sentence involving imprisonment.

The word “trafficking” is not defined in the Drugs Misuse Act. It has been held to have a very wide meaning, and conveys a notion of trading in, or dealing with a drug.[1] The statute uses the words “carries on the business of unlawfully trafficking”.[2]

Some signs that a person is carrying on a business in drugs can include:

  1. negotiations for further outlets;[3]
  2. advertising or promoting to prospective buyers;
  3. setting up lines of supply;
  4. negotiating prices and terms;
  5. soliciting and receiving orders; and,
  6. arranging deliveries.[4]

It has been held that in order to prove a person trafficked in a drug it must be shown that he or she knowingly engaged in the movement of the drug from its source to the ultimate user, in the course of an illicit trade.[5]

It has also been held that a single disposal of a quantity of drug for reward can constitute a trafficking, if there was an intention to do it again.[6] The same could be true of a production.  In practice, this would usually have to be a large amount. “Even one dealing can be enough if it is intended to be the first transaction in what is expected to be a continuing activity.”[7]

It does not matter whether or not the trafficker made a profit.


 The maximum sentence for trafficking in Queensland is 25 years imprisonment. The offender must usually serve 80% of their sentence before being eligible for parole.[8]

[1] R v Quaile [1988] 2 Qd R 103

[3] R v Elhusseini [1988] 2 Qd R 442 per Connolly J at 445

[4] R v Elhusseini [1988] 2 Qd R 442 per McPherson J at 450

[5] R v Quaile [1988] 2 Qd R 103 per Ambrose J at 116, R v Antipas [1999] QCA 168 per McPherson J at [4]

[6] R v Quaile [1998] 2 Qd R 103 per Macrossan J at 114, R v Elhusseini [1988] 2 Qd R 442 at 454

[8] Section 5 Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (Qld) – the mandatory 80% non-parole period (at least as it applies to sentences of less than 10 years) applies to offences committed after 29 August 2013 per s.68B Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (No.35 of 2013).