Canadian Drug Possession Laws: The Ultimate Guide

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Canadian Drug Possession Laws

Here’s the most actionable and resourceful guideline on Canadian drug possession laws for you. Asa responsible citizen, it is your duty to know the law of your country so that you can use them whenever you face any issues related to drug possession law in Canada. Without spending a moment, let’s start our guide.

If someone is found guilty of using illegal drugs, that person must pay for it. Period! You may be banished for life if you get caught again and again. But, it’s not illegal to possess a measured amount of drug under certain circumstances.

Thousands of people worldwide, including Canada, find themselves confronting drug possession charges every year. Most of them are also charged under Canadian drug possession laws for carrying little amounts for personal use.

Certainly, possession of a controlled substance is not illegal when prescribed by a physician. However, some may use a specific meaning during scientific research. So, when can you be charged with a drug possession offense?

What are the guidelines in drug laws in Canada? That’s all we’ll be talking about in this article. Read the procedure carefully. So, you can understand how to deal with the situations when you’re charged with drug offences in Canada.

Understanding Drug Possession

Possession of drugs is the offense of using or having illegal drugs (one or more) in a person’s possession. The person may be using one or more illicit drugs for personal use, sale, distribution, or other purposes.

There are different categories of illegal drugs. So, the sentences for drug possession vary depending on the type and number of drugs, jurisdiction, and circumstances.

The sentence may vary from a minor fine to a prison sentence. However, possession of drugs is mostly an arrestable offense with consequences like a massive fine or probation.

What is the Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance?

Illegal possession of a controlled substance means possessing a banned substance without any legal reason. A person can be charged with illegal drug possession if they use any legal drug with a valid prescription.

How can someone be guilty of illegal possession of a controlled substance? To do so, the prosecutor must prove three elements like possession, knowing, and shared possession against someone.

Moreover, the prosecutor must prove that the accused was using illegal substances intentionally. Finally, the prosecutors have to prove that the person intended to use the drug to establish drug possession.

Anyway, most people do not understand the legal meaning of “possession.” It means anyone using the illegal substance has physical control over it. The drug may be available in their pocket, in a bag or car, in personal custody, or hidden elsewhere.

What does shared possession of drugs means? Well, it means a person has partial control of an illegal substance. For example, police found illegal drugs in an apartment where two roommates are living. So, they will be charged with shared possession.

Understanding Canadian Drug Possession laws

In Canada, possession of a scheduled substance, including drugs, is the most common charge. However, technically, the possession of a controlled substance in Canada is not a crime. This is because the Criminal Code of Canada does not cover it.

Instead, possession of drugs is a contravention of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The federal Crown actually prosecutes the CSDA offenses, not the Provincial Crown. The CSDA outlines the crimes and penalties for violation.

According to the Canadian laws on drug possession, it is prosecuted like a criminal offense for all purposes. The CSDA outlines it within the meaning in section 4(3) of the Canadian criminal code drug offences.

Section (3) drug policy in Canada states that,

  • A person has possession of drugs when he possesses them knowingly or in his personal custody.
  • When two or more person is involved, and one of them has anything in his custody with the consent of the rest, all of them will be responsible for it.

In the Canadian laws of drug possession, possessions can be of three types, including;

  • Personal possession
  • Constructive possession
  • Joint possession

We’ve described the personal and joint or shared possession in the earlier section of the article. So all that is left is constructive possession.

Constructive possession is defined as “a person did not have physical custody of a substance but did have it in the custody of another person. The place may not belong to the accused person, but he is using it for his benefit.”

When it is proved in the prosecution that the accused person knew about the substance, he will be found guilty of constructive possession. There are two elements, knowledge and control, used in the three categories of possession.

Drug Schedules

In Canada, a wide range of drugs has been used that cause massive harm to the population. Tobacco and alcohol are the most consumed psychoactive drugs of all. Then again, there is a long list of legal drugs in Canada.

Each type of drug is divided into different categories. Depending on these categories, the range of sentences is determined. These categories are known as the Schedules of the CSDA.

The Schedules of Canada’s Controlled Drug and Substances Act range from Schedule I to Schedule VII. The list below is the example of drugs in their corresponding Schedules.

  • Schedule I – Opium, cocaine, acetorphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, metopon, oxycodone, heroin, methamphetamine, alfentanil, etc.
  • Schedule II – Nabilone, Parahexyl, Hashish, Marijuana, etc.
  • Schedule III – Ethylphenidate, Methaqualone, Harmaline, Psilocin, Methcathinone, Mesocarb, etc.
  • Schedule IV – Allobarbital, Cyclopal, Alphenal, Methabarbital, Barbiturates, benzodiazepine, anabolic steroids, etc.
  • Schedule V – Repealed.
  • Schedule VI – Class A and Class B Precursors such as Acetone, Acetic anhydride, Ergometrine, Piperonal, etc.
  • Schedule VII – Specifies 3Kg as an amount of Cannabis.
  • Schedule VII – Specifies 1gram of Cannabis resin or 30 grams of Cannabis.

Punishment for Drug Possession Charges in Canada

Conviction on drug charges in Canada can lead to a range of penalties. The penalties depend on the type of drug used and how much is used. Moreover, the prosecutors consider the purpose of use while deciding the sentence.

Then, the law in that province and the person’s criminal history are considered while determining the sentence. The sentence can be a minor fine to heavy fines or jail sentence.

However, Schedule I, II and III, have the same sentences for an instant conviction. If the offence is for the first time, the accused person is fined one thousand dollars and six months of imprisonment.

The punishment is a fine of a maximum of two thousand dollars and imprisonment for one year for the following offense. Nonetheless, the purpose of using the drugs is also a determining factor.

The accused person may be using the drugs for sale, production, importing and exporting. Therefore, along with the maximums set out in the CDSA, quantity and the supposed seriousness of the drug play an important role.

In the case of Schedule II substance, section 4(5) of the CSDA considers the quantity of the drug. If the amount is less than the number of drugs set out in Schedule VIII, the accused person will be punished with summary conviction.

Indeed, simple possession of drugs is not prohibited. But, living for trafficking, importing, exporting, etc., is not permitted if not authorized. The maximum penalty for trafficking drugs is life imprisonment as stated in possession of the criminal traffic code.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences Canada Drugs

Schedule I Drugs (Heroin, Cocaine, etc.)

Offense

Mandatory Minimum Penalty

w/

Aggravating Factor –

List A

w/

Aggravating Factor –

List B

w/

Health and Safety Factors

Trafficking

One year

Two years

Possession for Trafficking

One year

Two years

Importing

Exporting

One year

Or

Two years (for above 1 kg)

Possession For Exporting

One year

Or

Two years (for above 1 kg)

Production Two years

Three years

 

Schedule I Drugs (Cannabis Marijuana)

Offence

Mandatory Minimum Penalty

w/

Aggravating Factor –

List A

w/

Aggravating Factor –

List B

w/

Health and Safety Factors

Trafficking

One year

Two years

Possession for Trafficking

One year

Two years

Importing

Exporting

One year

 

Possession For Exporting

One year

 

Production

Six months – 1 year

Nine months – 18 months

Frequently Asked Questions

Question-01: What is Canada’s Current Legal Position on Drugs?

Answer: Canada has signed on to international drug conventions. In addition, the country has declared the use of non-medical drugs as a criminal offense. However, a detailed explanation of the penalties of drug possession is noted in CSDA.

Question-02: Is MDA Legal in Canada?

Answer: Yes, it is legal. MDA is a controlled drug under Schedule I of the CSDA. Yet, production, sale, or possession of MDMA is illegal if not authorized for medical, industrial, or scientific purposes.

Question-03: Is Possession of Drugs a Criminal Offence in Canada?

Answer: Possession of drugs is not a criminal offence if prescribed by an authorized person. But, possession of illegal drugs is a crime whether used for distribution, sale or personal use.

Question-04: What is the penalty for drug possession in Canada?

Answer: The penalty for drug possession varies depending on the type, amount of drug used. Also, the purpose of the use is considered while determining the penalties. 1. If accused of the first time, the penalty is a fine of $1000 and 6-months imprisonment. 2. For the subsequent accusation, the penalty is a fine of $2000 and 1-year imprisonment.

Question-05: What Type of Crime is Drug Possession?

Answer: Drug possession is a justifiable crime under Section 10(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.

Question-06: Is It Illegal to Have Steroids in Your Possession in Canada?

Answer: In Canada, steroids are considered the controlled substances. Therefore, it is illegal to manufacture, sell, import, or export steroids without authorized permission. However, it can be used for personal reasons when prescribed by a physician.

Final Verdict: Canadian Drug Possession Laws

A quality defense strategy is hence needed to get the best outcome from a drug possession charge. Unfortunately, some people still take drug possession as a minor crime. However, it would be best if you considered it as the Canadian drug possession laws are strict.

The drug possession charges may come with considerable consequences. You may lose your career, and some may get life imprisonment. If you are charged with drug possession, make sure you seek help from an expert criminal defense team.