Drug Offences

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.

Drug Trafficking & Possession Defense Lawyers in Edmonton

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:
  • Opium poppy, its preparations, derivatives and salts, including: opium, codeine, morphine, thebaine, acetorphine, benzylmorphine, codoximine, etc.
  • Coca, its preparations, derivatives and salts, including: coca leaves, cocaine, ecgonine
  • Methamphetamine, it’s salts, derivatives, isomers and analogues and salts of isomers & analogues
  • Amphetamines, their salts, derivatives, isomers and analogues and salts of isomers & analogues
  • The following and their intermediates, derivatives, salts and salts of derivatives: phenylpiperidines, phenazepines, amidones, methadols, phenalkozams, thiambutenes, moramides, morphinans, benzazocines, phencyclidine, piritramide, fentanyls, and tilidin*



Schedule II Substances Include:
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonists, their salts, derivatives, isomers, and salts of derivatives and isomers*


Schedule III Substances Include:
  • Amphetamines, their salts, derivatives, isomers and analogues and salts of the derivatives, isomers, and analogues as listed, but NOT including methamphetamine.
  • The following substances and any salt thereof: methylphenidate; methaqualone; mecloqualone; lysergic acid diethlamide (LSD); N,N-Diethyltryptamine (DET); N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT); N-Methyl-3-piperidyl benzilate; Harmaline; Harmalol; Psilocin; Psilocybin; N-(1-phenylcyclohexyl) ethylamine (PCE); 1-[1-(2-Thienyl)cyclohexyl]piperidine; Rolicyclidine; mescaline; 4-methylaminorex; cathinone; fenetylline; 2-methylamino-1-phenyl-1-propanone; 1–[1–(Phenylmethyl)cyclohexyl] piperidine; 1–[1–(4–Methylphenyl)cyclohexyl] piperidine; 4–bromo–2,5–dimethoxybenzeneethanamine; Flunitrazepam; 4-hydroxybutanoic acid (GHB); Aminorex; Etryptamine; Lefetamine; Mesocarb; Zipeprol; Amineptine; Benzylpiperazine; Trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine [TFMPP]*


Schedule IV Substances Include:
  • The following substances, their salts and derivates: barbituates, thiobarbituates, chlorophentermine, diethylpropion, phendiemtrazine, phenmetrazine, pipradol, phentermine, butorphanol, nalbuphine, gluethimide, clotiazepam, ethchlorvynol, ethinamate, mazindol, meprobamate, methyprylon, benzodiazepines (but not including clozapine, flunitrazepam, or olanzapine), Catha edulis forsk, fencamfamin, fenproporex, mefenorex, anabolic steroids, zeranol, zolpidem, 1 pemoline, and pyrovalerone.*

*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


The CDSA makes it an offence to possess any substance listed  Schedule I, II, or III. A person is in “possession” of a drug if they have have “control” and “knowledge” of the drug. This offence can be made out even if the drug is possessed for personal use.

If you are found in possession of a small-quantity of a drug and it is your first offence, you may qualify for the Alternative Measures Program (AMP). If you successfully participate in AMP, the charges against you will be withdrawn and you will not receive a criminal record.

If you are found guilty of an offence contrary to section 4(1) CDSA, the Crown may have the option of electing to proceed by summary conviction or indictment.  Their choice determines the maximum sentences that are available if you are found guilty. Additionally, if you have previous convictions for the same offence, there are higher maximum sentences that are available.


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:

  • 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 drug 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 section 5(1) is the same as the penalties under section 5(2).  Please see below for details.


Generally, this offence is made out when someone possesses a drug with the intention of making the drug available to others. The offence requires proof that the accused had possession of the drugs and the purpose of that possession was to make the drugs available to others. In other words, the Crown is not required to prove that the drugs were actually sold – just that the drugs were possessed for the purpose of being sold.

Accused persons have been found guilty of possession for the purpose of trafficking in the following situations:

  • Transporting or storing large quantities of drugs
  • A husband transporting drugs to his wife
  • Assisting a 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))


Crown Election

Summary Maximum Penalties

Indictment Maximum Penalties

Schedule I or II Substance N/A Imprisonment for life
Schedule III Substance 18 mos prison 10 yrs prison
Schedule IV Substance 1 yr prison 3 yrs prison


Production is defined as manufacture and cultivation. It is prohibited for all substances in Schedules I-IV, unless otherwise authorized by legislation.

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 Law, 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.