Methamphetamine and Crime

This section provides information about methamphetamine-related crime (including arrests and trafficking), as well as Australian legislation regarding methamphetamine use.

The primary data source utilised in this section is the Australian Crime Commission's 2016-17 Illicit Drug Data Report. This report contains illicit drug data collected from state and territory police services, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services, and forensic laboratories.

To be consistent with the terminology used in the Illicit Drug Data Report, this section of the NADK predominantly uses the term amphetamine-type stimulants. The Australian Crime Commission defines amphetamine-type stimulants as including amphetamine, methylamphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

What are the legal penalties for using methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a controlled drug in Australia. According to the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP), methamphetamine is a ‘Schedule 8’ drug.

It is against the law to be in possession of a Schedule 8 drug without a proper prescription. There are penalties for illegal possession, use, manufacture, importation, exportation, or sale of methamphetamine. It is also an offence to drive with methamphetamine present in body fluids or to drive under its influence. Penalties vary between jurisdictions, but may include fines, loss of demerit points, imprisonment, and disqualification from driving.

Some states and territories have police or court diversion programs, which refer people who have been apprehended with small quantities of illicit drugs to treatment/education programs, rather than going through the criminal justice system.

Laws have also been introduced in some states and territories that prevent the sale and possession of ‘ice pipes’. To assist in reducing the supply and manufacture of methamphetamine, the precursor chemicals needed to make methamphetamine have also been restricted (e.g. pseudoephedrine).

How many amphetamine-type stimulant arrests are made each year in Australia?

In 2016-17, there were a record 47,531 arrests related to amphetamine-type stimulants in Australia. Of these, 86% were consumer arrests and 14% were provider arrests.

Source: Australian Crime Commission (2018). Illicit Drug Data Report 2016-17.

†For the purposes of this FAQ, amphetamine-type stimulants include amphetamine, methylamphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

Consumer Arrests: The Australian Crime Commission differentiates between people who have been apprehended for trading in, as opposed to using, illicit drugs. Those charged with user-type offences (possessing or administering drugs for their own use) are classified as consumers.

Provider Arrests: The Australian Crime Commission differentiates between people who have been apprehended for trading in, as opposed to using, illicit drugs. Those charged with supply-type offences (importation, trafficking, selling, cultivation and manufacture) are classified as providers.

How many amphetamine-type stimulants are seized by police each year in Australia?

In 2016-17, there were a record 37,351 amphetamine-type stimulant seizures in Australia, weighing a total of 7,572 kilograms (the third highest weight on record).

Out of all Australian states and territories, New South Wales accounted for the greatest proportion (37%) and weight (63%) of amphetamine-type stimulant seizures.

Source: Australian Crime Commission (2018). Illicit Drug Data Report 2016-17. (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† For the purposes of this FAQ, amphetamine-type stimulants include amphetamine, methylamphetamine, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

How many amphetamine-type stimulants are trafficked each year in Australia?

In 2016-17 there were 2,905 amphetamine-type stimulant border detections in Australia. This amounted to a total weight of 1,834 kilograms. In addition, over 1,584 kilograms of amphetamine-type stimulant precursors were detected at the Australian border in 2016-17.

Source: Australian Crime Commission (2018). Illicit Drug Data Report 2016-17.

† For the purposes of this FAQ, amphetamine-type stimulants include amphetamine and methylamphetamine.

Precursors: Considered to be the starting materials for illicit drug manufacture. As a result of chemical reactions, the precursor’s molecular structure is modified to produce a specific illicit drug. For example, precursors such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can be converted into methylamphetamine.