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POSSESSION

An offence under section 4 of the Controlled Drug and Substance Act (the “CDSA”) prohibits the possession of certain types of controlled substances. The CDSA classifies different types of controlled substances into different schedules – typically carrying different penalties for different schedules.

Two of the main requirements that are routinely considered when analyzing these charges are knowledge and control. The evidence must establish that an accused person had both knowledge of the substance and control of the substance. In other words, someone cannot possess a substance if they do not know where it is or it is not in their control.

An extremely careful review of the evidence is paramount when considering possession charges. Many assumptions can be made that an accused person must have obviously had knowledge and control of a substance that was found during an investigation if that person was near the item when it was found by the police. This may not always be the case.

It is crucial that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance.

TRAFFICKING

An offence under section 5(1) of the CDSA prohibits the trafficking of certain types of controlled substances.  Like possession charges, the CDSA classifies different types of controlled substances into different schedules – typically carrying different penalties for different schedules.

What separates trafficking charges from possession charges is the requirement to sell a controlled substance. It is important to understand that intending to offer and intending to carry out an offer to sell a controlled substance are both not required to be found guilty of trafficking. In other words, it does not need to be proven that you intended to carry out an offer to sell a controlled substance, rather just that you intended to make the offer.

There are certain defenses to trafficking charges that arise if you had no knowledge that the item was in fact a controlled substance.

It is highly recommended that you obtain legal advice immediately if you have been charged with trafficking a controlled substance.

POSSESSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRAFFICKING (PPT)

An offence under section 5(2) of the CDSA prohibits the trafficking of certain types of controlled substances.  Like possession and trafficking charges, the CDSA classifies different types of controlled substances into different schedules – typically carrying different penalties for different schedules.

What separates PPT from trafficking and possession is the concept that you must possess a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. The quantity of the controlled substance that you possess can be indicative of PPT charges, however, a certain amount is not required to be proven for you to be found guilty.

The issue surrounding your knowledge and control of a controlled substance, again, weighs heavily when considering PPT charges. That is why it is critical that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been charged with PPT.

FAQs

Possession – What is the minimum sentence for possession of a controlled substance in Canada?

There is no minimum sentence for possession of a controlled substance. However, depending on the type of controlled substance, your sentence may range from $1000 to seven years in prison.

Possession – What is a scheduled substance in Canada?

Possession of a drug is not technically a criminal offence.  In Canada, it is the possession of a scheduled substance that is prohibited. The CDSA outlines which substances belong to which schedules, often carrying different penalties. For example, opium and cocaine are Schedule I substances.

Trafficking – What does “trafficking” mean?

Trafficking” includes offering to sell. It is important to understand that it does not need to be proven that you intended to carry out an offer to sell a controlled substance, rather just that you intended to make the offer.

This type of charge can be very “technical” in nature, which is why it is extremely important that you obtain legal advice immediately if you have been charged with trafficking a controlled substance.

Trafficking – What if I didn’t know the nature of the substance being sold by the person I was with?

If you honestly did not know what the person you were with was selling, you may be able to raise a defence to trafficking charges. If you are unable to produce evidence to this effect, you can still be found guiling of trafficking despite there being no evidence that you knew what the substance was.

PPT – What is the difference between trafficking and PPT?

Trafficking requires the selling/distributing or intending to sell/distribute a controlled substance. PPT does not have the same threshold regarding intent.

For example, finding large amounts of a controlled substance, or the type of packaging, may be enough to satisfy PPT charges, keeping in mind that knowledge and control of the substance are still required.

PPT – What is the amount of a controlled substance that you must have to be charged with PPT?

Possession of a particular quantity of a controlled substance is not required for PPT. Each situation requires a different analysis. However, regardless of quantity, the evidence still must prove that you knew the nature of the substance and possessed it for the purpose of trafficking. Again, whether someone possesses something for the purpose of trafficking requires careful consideration of the evidence against you.


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