Key Takeaways

Methylphenidate is illegal in New South Wales, unless you have a prescription. It carries penalties ranging from 2 years to life imprisonment. Methylphenidate is a drug commonly branded as “Ritalin” or “Concerta” and is commonly used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to help become calm and focused. It is a central nervous system and psychostimulant medication that can help with increased productivity. In NSW, Australia, it is a schedule 8 drug of addiction or controlled drug, and a prohibited drug in NSW.

This article written by our own drug lawyers Sydney team is a guide, not legal advice. For legal advice please get in touch with our Sydney office.


What is Methylphenidate?

Methylphenidate is a drug utilized to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (‘ADHD’), such as difficulty focusing and hyperactive behaviour.

It is also, albeit less commonly, utilised to treat narcolepsy due its effect within providing alertness.

Methylphenidate is a central nervous system and psychostimulant medication.


What is Ritalin?

Methylphenidate is sold under various recognisable brand names such as ‘Ritalin’ and ‘Concerta’.

When it is taken as prescribed, it has a calming effect on individuals who have ADHD, helping them focus on completing tasks.

However, methylphenidate has experienced a rise in abuse by users during recent years, due to being used recreationally.

As it provides users with the ability to concentrate better, it is often abused by students and professionals, without ADHD, to increase their productivity. Here is more on the smart drug modafinil.

It is also susceptible to abuse due to how it increases levels of dopamine, which can create a sensation of euphoria.


Side Effects of Methylphenidate

Common side effects include elevated heartbeat, loss of appetite, insomnia, and less commonly, chest pain, fever, joint pain, skin rashes, panic attacks and nausea.

Whilst there is an absence of recent studies, it has been found that total psychostimulant consumption increases by an average 12% per year.

Australia and New Zealand were ranked third in total psychostimulant use, after the United States and Canada, at levels significantly higher than the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, or France.


Is Ritalin Legal in Australia?

Ritalin, being a Methylphenidate drug, is commonly used for people suffering ADHD and is a schedule 8 ‘controlled drug’ which requires a prescription to be allowed to have or sell. Certain doctors may prescribe it to patients. Section 21 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) prescribes up to 2 years imprisonment and/or up to a fine of $2,200 for illegal possession of Ritalin in New South Wales.

Supplying Ritalin carries penalties of up to 2 years jail and/or $5,500 fine if the Ritalin is less than the commercial quantity.

The commercial quantity for Ritalin is 0.5kg.

The penalty for supplying the commercial quantity of Ritalin is up to 20 years jail and/or $385,000 fine.

The penalty for supplying at least the large commercial quantity of Ritalin is life in jail and/or $550,000 fine. The large commercial quantity threshold for Ritalin is 2kg.


Buying Ritalin Methylphenidate in Australia

In NSW, methylphenidate is a schedule 8 ‘drug of addiction’ or ‘controlled drug’, among other drugs such as buprenorphine, dexamphetamine, opium, and morphine.

Prescribing a schedule 8 medication, such as methylphenidate, requires authorisation from the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit of the NSW Ministry of Health.

Authorisation is generally restricted to specialists such as paediatricians and psychiatrists.


Is Ritalin Available Over the Counter in Australia?                                                                     

Ritalin can be purchased over the counter in Australia if you have a valid doctor’s prescription. Getting or possessing Ritalin without a prescription amounts to a criminal offence attracting heavy penalties including a criminal conviction, as outlined further below in this article.


Where to Buy Ritalin Online in Australia | Ritalin Price

Ritalin is available to buy online or over the counter at any of the authorised pharmacy stores in Australia. For example, Chemist Warehouse website sell Ritalin 10mg tablets 100 online if you first sent via post an Australian authority prescription before the Ritalin can be shipped.

Costs of Ritalin are about the $17 to $20 range for a packet of 100 Ritalin tablets containing 10mg of methylphenidate in each tablet.


Can a GP prescribe Ritalin in Australia?

A GP doctor can prescribe their patient Ritalin in Australia. However, it must be done so legitimately otherwise the doctor can face criminal prosecution and also have their practicing certificate taken away preventing them from ever practising as a doctor again.


Law and Penalties for Ritalin and Methylphenidate in NSW

Methylphenidate is considered a ‘type A’ drug of addiction, and is also considered a prohibited drug, as per schedule 1 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).

Schedule 1 prescribes labels for various amounts of prohibited drugs.

For methylphenidate, 1 gram is considered a ‘small quantity’, 3 grams is considered a ‘traffickable quantity’, 5 grams is considered an ‘indictable quantity, 0.5kg is considered ‘commercial quantity’ and 2kg is considered a ‘large commercial quantity’.

Drug possession of methylphenidate, without a prescription, carries a maximum penalty of up to 2-years imprisonment and/or a $2,200 fine, as per section 21 of the Act.

However, a majority of those who plead guilty to the offence receive a Conditional Release Order, without conviction, or a fine only with a conviction.

A person who supplies, or who knowingly takes part in the drug supply of, methylphenidate is guilty of an offence, pursuant to section 25(1) of the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).

If the offence involves less than a commercial quantity, the matter can be dealt with summarily, and involves a maximum penalty of $5,500 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.

Where it involves an amount which is not less than a ‘commercial’ quantity, the offence carries an applicable maximum penalty of a fine of $385,000 and/or 20 years imprisonment.

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.

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


Does Ritalin Show up in Drug Tests Australia?

It is possible for Ritalin to show up in a drug test. This depends on the type of drug test being conducted and after how long the test is being done from time of consumption. Ritalin is likely to show up in a drug test if the drug test is looking for amphetamines. It will show up in a urine test from between 1 to 2 days after consumption. However, it will likely show up in a blood test for up to 12 hours after consumption. Ritalin could show up in a hair follicle test for up to 90 days from consumption.


Can you Drive on Ritalin in Australia?

It is illegal to drive with Ritalin in your system. Section 111 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) prescribes up to $2,200 fine for a first time offender or up to $3,300 for a second or subsequent time offender. In addition, this also carries a licence disqualification period of between 3 to 6 months.

In addition, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol that impairs your ability to drive is known as the offence of DUI which carries up to 18 months jail and/or $3,300 fine for a first offence. In addition to a 6 to 9 months disqualification period with a 2 years minimum interlock period in New South Wales.


Does Ritalin Show up in Roadside Drug Test in Australia?

Roadside drug tests conducted by New South Wales Police do not detect prescription type drugs such as Ritalin. Ritalin being an amphetamine should not show up a positive result on a roadside drug test. Roadside drug tests screen for methamphetamine which is a different drug to amphetamine.

By Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.

Published on 24/08/2023

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