Possession of Precursor Chemicals

Possession of Precursor Chemicals

Under section 71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, it is illegal to possess a precursor chemical that could be used to make a drug of dependence, unless you have a lawful excuse for doing so. It is important to seek legal advice if you are charged with this offence.

Police Interview
Drug offences are taken seriously by police and they will likely interview you if you are charged with this offence. You should go into a police interview prepared and with a good knowledge of your rights. We can assist you with your police interview, talk you through the process and any questions you might have.

Pleading Not Guilty
If you want to plead not guilty to this charge you should engage a lawyer who can go through the evidence with you and identify any weaknesses in the prosecution case. We deal with serious drug charges regularly and can assist you if you are charged with this offence. We can also help you work out if you can establish any defences such as whether you have a legitimate reason for having the precursor chemical.

Pleading Guilty
Where there is strong evidence against you, you may decide to plead guilty to this charge. It is important that a lawyer assists you with a plea. We look at all your material when we put together a plea submission including obtaining character references, any medical reports and importantly, telling the court your story, which all assist in helping you achieve a fair sentence.

Sentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Possess a Precursor Chemical in the Higher CourtsSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of VictoriaSentencing Statistics Pie Chart for Possess GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutanoic Acid) as a Precursor Chemical in the Magistrates' Courts
This offence is dealt with in the Magistrates’ and County Courts.
Examples of Possession of Precursor Chemicals
  • A person having precursor chemicals in their garage
  • A person storing precursor chemicals in an unused toilet block
  • A person found with precursor chemicals in the boot of their car
What is the legal definition of Possession of Precursor Chemicals?
The Prosecution must demonstrate that the accused intentionally had the chemical in his/her custody, or under his or her control.1

This offence can be found on s 71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (the Act).

Elements of the Offence
To prove this offence the Prosecution must show that (1) the accused possessed a prescribed quantity of a chemical without lawful excuse and (2) that chemical was a prescribed precursor chemical.

“Can the Prosecution prove that the chemicals were used to manufacture illicit drugs?”

[1] He Kaw Teh v R (1985) 157 CLR 523; R v Maio [1989] VR 281.
Defences to this charge can be:

  • The substance that the Police have seized was not a prescribed precursor chemical;
  • Factual disputes about where and when materials were seized;
  • Disputes as to intention to possess.
You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Questions in cases like this
  • Was there another reason for storing the chemical?
  • Is there any evidence that the chemicals were used to produce an illicit drug?
  • Can the Prosecution prove ‘possession’?

The maximum penalty for Possession of Precursor Chemicals (s71D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981) is a fine of 600 penalty units (around $100,000) or 5 years imprisonment.