Hearsay ... the Journal of the Bar Association of Queensland
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Issue 70 - Oct 2014
Book Review: Zahra & Ardenís Drug Laws in New South Wales Print E-mail

drug_laws_cover.jpg3rd Edition

Editors: Peter Zahra1  & Courtney Young2
Publisher: Federation Press
Reviewed by James McNab

This is the 3rd Edition of this book, the first being in 1991. It was updated in 1998. This current edition emerged, this year.  Drug Laws is a very comprehensive overview and detailed analysis of drug laws as they apply in New South Wales.

The book is split into three parts. Part A is concerned with substantive offences. The text helpfully outlines the various offences and penalties as they apply in New South Wales.  It also deals with conspiracy and the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966.  Importantly, and of greatest assistance to Queensland readers and practitioners, there is a very detailed chapter that deals with Commonwealth narcotics offences. 

Part B of the book deals with evidence and procedure such as hearsay admissions, searches, seizure and investigation and evidentiary issues in drug prosecutions.  That chapter is extremely helpful particularly in relation to the common law position as it applies to New South Wales.  It also gives a very detailed analysis and explanation of the statutory provisions as well.  The discussion and use of case law from other jurisdictions is of great assistance. 

On the subject of hearsay admissions, there is very helpful discussion and interpretation of terms which are often used in relation to drugs including colloquial terms such as “dope” to refer to heroin or cannabis.   Does “grass” mean cannabis and does “speed” mean amphetamine?  It then gives a schedule which details a variety of terms used and the cases in which the terms have been judicially considered.

Thirdly, Part C deals with sentencing issues.  It is very useful for those who practise in New South Wales. It is also helpful for those of us who wish to understand the New South Wales sentencing regime which is quite different to that in Queensland.

Importantly, the book as a whole is a very detailed, useful and practical tool for practitioners. It is utility is not restricted to those who only work in New South Wales but ranges much more broadly.  It deals with very complex statutory and case law by breaking it down into easily understandable and readable principles. 

This is a text that is an excellent tool for any advocate to use.  In essence, it is a practical guide to drug laws in New South Wales and would be an asset to any practitioner’s library.

Recommended Retail Price: $145 or direct from the publishers $135.00

James McNab


  1. Peter Zahra SC is a Judge of the District Court of New South Wales.
  2. Courtney Young is a solicitor, sessional lecturer and research associate with the University of New South Wales


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