Drug Offences

Drug Offences 2015-06-10T09:00:30+00:00

Drug Offences

Brad Smith is an experienced Vancouver & Kamloops criminal defence lawyer who defends people charged with drug offences.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act creates a number of drug offences in Canada. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act also includes several schedules listing the various controlled drugs and substances. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, morphine, opium, cannabis marihuana and MDMA (“ecstasy”) are all listed in the schedules.

In addition to the drug offences created by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code makes it illegal to conspire with others to commit them. This means that a person can be charged with a drug offence like trafficking, as well as the separate offence of conspiracy to traffic.

If you are convicted of a drug offences and the prosecution can prove you committed the offence for profit there is a good chance you will go to jail. Several drug offences have minimum mandatory sentences. A criminal record for a drug offence will negatively affect your life in many ways.

Click on the links below to find out more about drug offences in Canada.

[accordian]

[toggle title=”Possession” open=”no”]

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, section 4

4. (1) Except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III.

Possession is the offence also known as Simple Possession. Possession is considered the least serious drug offence. A person is most likely to be prosecuted on a Possession charge if he or she is facing other criminal charges too.

To prove a charge of Possession, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had knowledge and control of the controlled drug or substance.

[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Trafficking” open=”no”]

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, section 5

5. (1) No person shall traffic in a substances included in Schedule I, II, III or IV or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, section 2 defines what it means to “traffic.”

2. (1) In this Act,

“traffic” means, in respect of a substance included in any of Schedules I to IV,

(a) to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the substance,

(b) to sell an authorization to obtain the substance, or

(c) to offer to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).

To prove a charge of Trafficking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did one of the things within the definition of “traffic” with a controlled drug or substance.

Because trafficking typically also involves possession, a Trafficking charge is often laid together with a charge of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.

Examples of Trafficking or Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking include unsophisticated urban street-level sales by addicts, to more sophisticated suburban “dial-a-dope” operations, to high-level multi-kilogram deals in hotel rooms or warehouses.

Minimum Jail Sentences

Depending on the nature of the controlled drug or substance, the quantity, and the facts of the case, minimum jail sentences of up to 2 years for Trafficking may apply.

Maximum Jail Sentences

It is rare for someone to receive a maximum jail sentence. The maximum jail sentences for Trafficking are:

  • Opium
    • life
  • Morphine
    • life
  • Heroin
    • life
  • Cocaine
    • life
  • Methamphetamine
    • life
  • Cannabis marihuana
    • life (more than 3 kg)
    • 5 years (3 kg or less)
  • MDMA (“ecstasy”)
    • 10 years

[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (PPT)” open=”no”]

Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking is the offence also known as PPT. Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking is considered a very serious drug offence.

To prove a charge of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had knowledge and control of the controlled drug or substance and possessed it for a reason which falls within the definition of “traffic” (see the definition in the “Trafficking” section).

Minimum Jail Sentences

Depending on the nature of the controlled drug or substance, the quantity, and the facts of the case, minimum jail sentences of up to 2 years for Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking may apply.

Maximum Jail Sentences

It is rare for someone to receive a maximum jail sentence. The maximum jail sentences for Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking are:

  • Opium: life
  • Morphine: life
  • Heroin: life
  • Cocaine: life
  • Methamphetamine: life
  • Cannabis marihuana: life (more than 3 kg) or 5 years (3 kg or less)
  • MDMA (“ecstasy”): 10 years

[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Production” open=”no”]

Production is considered a very serious offence.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act defines what it means to “produce.” The definition of “produce” includes:

  • manufacture
  • synthesize
  • alter the physical or chemical properties
  • cultivate
  • propagate
  • harvest
  • offer to do any of the above

To prove a charge of Production, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did one of the things within the definition of “produce.”

Because of the commercial nature of many production operations, and the fact that the process of production usually involves possession, a Production charge is often laid together with a charge of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.

Examples of Production include cannabis marihuana growing operations (“grow-ops”) and synthetic drug laboratories (“clan labs”) for the production of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine or MDMA (“ecstasy”). Grow-ops range in size from small-scale personal use operations to large-scale farms in fields or in underground bunkers. Similarly, “clan labs” range in size from small-scale residential operations to very sophisticated large-scale laboratories in commercial premises.
[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Importing” open=”no”]

Importing is considered one of the most serious drug offences, usually because the drug alleged to have been imported cannot be produced in Canada, like heroin and cocaine.

To prove a charge of Importing, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused imported a controlled drug or substance into Canada.

Because of the commercial nature of many importing operations, and the fact that the process of importing usually also involves possession, an Importing charge is often laid together with a charge of Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking.

Examples of Importing include travellers who import small amounts for personal use, to paid couriers who import multi-kilogram amounts in luggage or hidden in vehicles, to multi-tonne large-scale importations that enter Canada on “mother-ships” or in shipping containers.

Minimum Jail Sentences

Depending on the nature of the controlled drug or substance, the quantity, and the facts of the case, minimum jail sentences of up to 2 years for Importing may apply.

Maximum Jail Sentences

It is rare for someone to receive a maximum jail sentence. The maximum jail sentences for Importing are:

  • Opium: life
  • Morphine: life
  • Heroin: life
  • Cocaine: life
  • Methamphetamine: life
  • Cannabis marihuana: life
  • MDMA (“ecstasy”): 10 years

[/toggle]

[/accordian]

In the Canadian criminal justice system, the accused has a constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This right is guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What this means is that the prosecution has to prove every element of a drug charge. The accused does not have to prove anything. All of the admissible evidence taken together must satisfy a judge or a jury that the drug offence charged has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the prosecution is successful the accused will be found “guilty” and be convicted.

If the prosecution fails to prove the accused committed the drug offence charged he or she will be found “not guilty” and acquitted of the charge.