People caught with the possession of drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamines or cocaine are often caught with varying quantities. With ecstasy, for example, the quantities can vary from one pill through to 10 to 20 pills. But does the purity of the actual drug as opposed to the total quantity matter in the eyes of the law?
Under NSW law, the relevant quantity of the drug is the gross weight. In other words, the total weight including the drug and any “add mixtures”. This is different to Commonwealth or Federal criminal drug law where the relevant quantity of the drug is the pure weight.
However, even in NSW, the purity of a drug can still be a relevant factor at sentence. It has been held that where the purity of a drug was unusually high, this can make the offence of supplying more serious. See R v Shi  NSWCCA135.
The purity of a drug is also relevant in defences for deemed supply. As detailed in our previous article, it is a defence to deemed supply if a person can establish that the drugs were for their own use. If the purity of the drug is low, then a Court may more easily accept that the possession of a larger quantity was for someone’s own use.