Drug offences are covered in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Drug law is a complex area often involving informants, search warrants, and expert analysis and testimony. Due to the recent enactment of Bill C-10, penalties for drugs offences have changed and many offences are now subject to mandatory minimum sentences. In the CDSA offences and penalties differ according to what “Schedule” the particular drug is found under. The most common drugs found within each schedule are listed below.
|Schedule I Substances Include:|
|Schedule II Substances Include:|
|Schedule III Substances Include:|
|Schedule IV Substances Include:|
*For a complete listing of all included and excluded substances, please see the CDSA at http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/FullText.html
SIMPLE POSSESSION S. 4(1) CDSA
Simple possession is an offence that deals with possessing a substance listed in Schedule I, II, or III. For marijuana or cannabis resin, s. 4(1) applies if the amount of marijuana is 30 g or less or the amount of resin is 1 g or less. Simple possession can be proven when the accused had knowledge and control of the drug.
If you are found in possession of a low-quantity of a drug (i.e. less than 8 g of marijuana) and it is your first offence, you may qualify for the Alternative Measures Program (AMP). If you successfully participate in AMP, usually by completing some community service hours or attending drug treatment or counseling sessions, the charges against you will be withdrawn and you will not receive a criminal record.
If you are found guilty of s. 4(1) CDSA charge the Crown may have the option of choosing to proceed by summary or indictment. Their choice determines what the maximum penalties you can face are.
|Simple Possession s. 4(1)|
Summary Maximum Penalties
Indictment Maximum Penalties
|Schedule I Substance||$1000 fine, 6 mos prison or both||$2000 fine, 1 yr prison or both||7 yrs prison|
|Schedule IIsubstances other than cannabis||$1000 fine, 6 mos prison or both||$2000 fine, 1 yr prison or both||5 yrs less a day prison|
|Cannabis resin – 1 g or less OR|
Cannabis marijuana – 30 g or less
|Maximum fine of $1000, 6 mos prison, or both for first or subsequent offences||Not applicable|
|Schedule III Substance||$1000 fine, 6 mos prison or both||$2000 fine, 1 yr prison or both||3 yrs prison|
TRAFFICKING S. 5(1) CDSA
Trafficking is the delivery of a drug from one person to another. Drug trafficking does not have to be done for the purpose of making money and the Crown does not have to prove that the accused completed the delivery for the purpose of promoting the drug.
Accused persons in the following situations have all been found guilty of Drug Trafficking s. 5(2):
- Giving drugs to a friend to hold onto for safe-keeping
- Introducing a seller to a buyer and assisting in negotiating price and giving payment
- Offering to sell drugs to an undercover police officer
- Offering to traffic in a narcotic to a person who will take the offer as genuine, even if the accused didn’t intent to carry through with the offer
- Offering to sell drugs to a person with the intention of taking their money and not delivering the drugs
- Selling a substance as a drug, regardless of whether it was or not
- Agreeing to buy drugs from another person for the purpose of resale
Maximum penalties for a charge under s. 5(1) is the same as the penalties under s. 5(2). Please see below for details.
POSSESSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRAFFICKING S. 5(2) CDSA
Generally, this offence is made out when someone possesses a drug with the intention of making the drug available to others, even if they have purchased the drugs together. The offence requires proof that the accused had knowledge of the drugs or was willfully blind as to their presence.
Accused persons have been found guilty under s. 5(2) CDSA in the following situations:
- A husband transporting drugs to his wife
- Assisting a narcotics trafficker in hiding drugs from the police in the accused’s apartment
- Lending money to someone else to buy and sell drugs and expecting profit in return
- Participating in a compassion club
Trafficking (s. 5(1)) and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (s. 5(2))
Summary Maximum Penalties
Indictment Maximum Penalties
|Schedule I or II Substance||N/A||Imprisonment for life|
|Cannabis not more than 3 kg ORCannabis resin not more than 3 kg||N/A||5 yrs less a day prison|
|Schedule III Substance||18 mos prison||10 yrs prison|
|Schedule IV Substance||1 yr prison||3 yrs prison|
PRODUCTION OF SUBSTANCE S. 7(1) CDSA
Production is defined as manufacture and cultivation. It is prohibited for all substances in Schedules I-IV, unless otherwise authorized by legislation. Cultivation requires ongoing working in helping the plants to grow, but does not stop if the plants are at a stage where they don’t require attention, in an environment that the person created. It starts when working with seeds and continues until the plants reach maturity
Due to the recent passing of Bill C-10, several changes have occurred in the sentencing of offences under s. 7(1). The new bill has mandatory minimum sentences for this offence. The result is that a judge is required, by law, to place your sentence within a specified range.
If ANY of the following aggravating factors are proven, the mandatory minimum sentence will increase:
- The production used real property that belongs to a third party
- The production constituted a potential security, health or safety risk to persons under the age of 18 years who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area
- The production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area OR
- The person set or placed a trap, device or other thing that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to another person in the area where the offence was committed or in the immediate area, or permitted such a trap, device or thing to remain or be placed in that area or location
Production of a Substance s. 7(1) CDSA
Indictment Sentencing Range with Aggravating Factor(s)
|Schedule I Substances||2 yrs – life imprisonment||3 yrs – life imprisonment|
|Schedule II Substances other than marijuana for the purpose of trafficking||1 yr – life imprisonment||18 mos – life imprisonment|
|Cannabis produced for the purposes of trafficking|| |
6 mos – 14 yrs prison
9 mos – 14 yrs prison
|Summary Maximum Penalties||Indictable Maximum Penalties|
|Schedule III Substances||18 mos prison||3 yrs prison|
|Schedule IV Substances||1 yr prison||3 yrs prison|
Drug offenses like trafficking and possession can result in serious penalties, fines, and considerable sentencing if you are proven guilty. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer with experience in handling illegal substance charges is crucial to obtaining successful results. At Pringle Chivers Sparks Teskey we have years of experience and positive results defending clients who have been arrested and charged with drug trafficking and possession. If you or a family member are facing a possible criminal conviction for charges related to drug possession or trafficking, contact our Edmonton office today and speak with a lawyer about your case.