Are Xanax and Valium legal in New South Wales?

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It is illegal for a pharmacist in NSW to sell Xanax (alprazolam) or Valium (diazepam), without a valid prescription.
Australia Criminal Law
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This article is a guide on drug laws. For more information, contact our  drug lawyers Sydney team.

New South Wales Police have seized 722kg of the drug 'Xanax' during a search on a storage unit in Auburn, which is the largest single seizure of pharmaceutical drugs in state history.

The State Crime Command's Raptor Squad established 'Strike Force Chadderton' which aimed to investigate the interstate transportation of cash, linked to criminal activity.

Following this investigation, police executed a search warrant on a storage unit in Auburn on Sunday, 7 April 2024.

During the search of the storage unit, police located and seized 722kg of 'Alprazolam' (which is commonly known under the brand name of 'Xanax' or colloquially referred to as xannies, bars, or benzos). The drugs have an estimated street value of $12 million.

Connected to this investigation, Raptor Squad officers have charged a 28-year-old man.

The man was driving a truck travelling on Hammond Avenue, Wagga Wagga at about 9pm on Wednesday, 10 April 2024.

Police stopped and searched the truck, locating and seizing shopping bags containing almost $1 million in cash.

The man was arrested and taken to Wagga Wagga Police  Station where he was charged with supply prohibited drug greater than large commercial quantity and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is Alprazolam, which is prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, as it acts as a central nervous system depressant which slows down brain activity and relaxes muscles. It is a prescription only medicine. Common brands that sell manufacture and sell Alprazolam include Xanax, Kalma, Alprax and Raloxam.

The difference between Xanax and Alprazolam is that Xanax is the brand name given by a company that produces and sells Alprazolam. This type of drug is considered a 'schedule 8 controlled drug' in all Australian states and territories due to its inclusion in the schedule published in the Poisons Standard.

Controlled drugs are medicines that can only be supplied by a pharmacist on prescription only. This means that it is illegal for a pharmacist to sell you Xanax or Alprazolam without you producing a valid prescription.

Xanax Side Effects

Alprazolam or Xanax is tightly regulated with restrictions due to its addictive qualities.

Alprazolam became a schedule 8 medicine drug in February 2014, due to growing concerns that it was being misused and creating risks to the safety of users.

Xanax is extremely addictive and has been often misused due to the short-term effects creating a euphoric feeling.

Misuse can ultimately lead to memory impairments and overdose deaths.

Is Xanax Legal in Australia?

In New South Wales, alprazolam is included under schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 ( NSW) as a 'prohibited drug'.

Schedule 1 specifies what amounts will be considered small, indictable, traffickable, commercial, and large commercial quantities of a relevant drug.

With respect to alprazolam, a small quantity is 1 gram, a traffickable quantity is 3 grams, an indictable quantity is 5 grams, a commercial quantity is 0.5 kilograms, and a large commercial quantity is 2 kilograms.

If you have a prescription for alprazolam, this will be a defence to any criminal prosecution for possession of Alprazolam or Xanax, however, it is important to note that the amount you have should be in line with the amount prescribed by your medical practitioner.

It is an offence to supply, or knowingly take part in the supply of alprazolam or Xanax without prescription, as outlined in section 25(1) of the Act, which prescribes heavy penalties of imprisonment. The Local Court is limited to imposing a maximum penalty of a $5,500 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment for one offence.

Where supply involves an amount which is not less than a 'commercial' quantity, the offence carries an applicable maximum penalty of a $385,000 fine and/or 20 years imprisonment. There is a  standard non-parole period of 10 years which is applicable (if the supply does not relate to cannabis leaf).

A standard non-parole period is a legislative guidepost for a sentencing judge to consider. The standard non-parole period represents the non-parole period for an offence that is in the middle range of seriousness, considering only the objective factors affecting the offence's relative seriousness.

If the quantity involved is not less than the large commercial quantity, the maximum penalty rises to a $550,000 fine and/or life imprisonment. There is a non-parole period of 15 years applicable to this offence (if the supply does not relate to cannabis leaf).

If the offence involves less than a commercial quantity, the matter can be dealt with summarily in the Local Court, unless the prosecutor or defendant elects for it to be heard in the District Court.

This is due to supply involving more than small quantity but not more than indictable quantity, and supply involving more than indictable quantity but less than commercial quantity being classified as 'table 1 offences' under schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW).

Offences involving commercial and large commercial quantities are  'strictly indictable', which means that they cannot be dealt with in the Local Court and therefore will be heard before the District Court.

Is Valium Legal in Australia?

Valium is the brand name for the drug diazepam, which is a considered a prescribed restricted substance under the poisons list to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW). Under that Act, section 9 makes it illegal to supply Valium without a licence or authority. The penalty prescribed for illegally supply Valium in New South Wales is $2,200 fine and/or up to two years imprisonment.

Section 16 of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW) makes it illegal to possess Valium in New South Wales without a licence or authorisation, prescribing a penalty of up to $2,200 fine and/or two years imprisonment.

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