There have been numerous occasions where almighty gossip Instagram pages like So Dramatic! and Celeb Spellcheck (RIP) have reshared footage that was posted to IG of certain celebrities, influencers and reality stars openly doing drugs.
And what about all the athletes (there are literally too many to name) who have copped a pummelling in the press after footage got out of them doing drugs during a drunken stupor?
This got me thinking about what the real world consequences are for people who share photos or videos on social media of them partaking in drugs, because I’m sure either you or someone you know has at some point.
I spoke to Fahim Khan, a Senior Associate at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, to understand what the legal ramifications are for sharing footage that shows people doing drugs.
“When someone posts a video of themselves taking drugs, either individually or in a group, and that video is publicly accessible, they risk having that video used as evidence against them by the police for either of the following two criminal charges: Possession of prohibited drugs; or Supply of prohibited drugs,” he told me.
If the vid shows someone taking drugs, then they could potentially be liable for a possession charge (drug possession in NSW carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and/or a $2,200 fine), although Khan points out that that’ll be a tough one to make stick as the prosecution would need to prove that the substance in the vid was actually a prohibited drug. [Editor’s note: Fahim says that the laws across the various states are largely similar with minor differences. The laws also vary depending on the type of drugs that are being used and also on the quantities of such drugs.]
A few months back, a video that allegedly showed a Bachelor star snorting a white powder circulated on Instagram. Turns out a friend of hers had filmed her in the act and the video was posted to social media and later went viral after being picked up by Celeb Spellcheck.
In this instance, because her actions were expected to be private, the friend who filmed and shared the video is liable as it is unlawful in accordance with Surveillance Devices Act 2007 (NSW) to record people without consent or knowledge in a moment that is meant to be private.
But also, as mentioned earlier, the (alleged) drug user could also be liable for possession of prohibited drugs, as mentioned above. So basically everyone’s fucked there.
So pretty much, although it will be difficult for prosecution to use just the video of someone taking drugs to establish either one of the two charges, it’s still a risky move as the video would likely “put that person on the police’s ‘radar’ for any future offending,” Fahim says.
The aforementioned star later addressed the video to The Herald Sun, telling the publication that she is “humiliated” by the video.
“I feel sick. I am humiliated. I don’t know what else to say. I am really embarrassed,” she said.
She presumably got off unscathed here, but from now on when you Google her name, that video will pop up, which is a powerful reminder that, celebrity or not, what’s posted on the internet can haunt you forever.