Drug related offences are subject to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) and are prosecuted by the Federal government. Drug related offences can be tried as a summary conviction (less serious) or an indictable offence (more serious), depending on the nature and severity of the crime. There can be short-term and long-term consequences to such charges, so it is important to find the right criminal lawyer to defend your case.
Possession is a hybrid offence meaning the Crown prosecutor can decide whether to treat your case as a less serious summary conviction offence or a more serious indictable offence. The Crown’s decision depends on the factors such as whether it was your first time being charged with possession, the type of drug and the quantity of the drug.
A person can be charged with illegal possession of drugs when they have a prohibited substance on them without any legal justification. It also means that a person has physical control over an illegal substance. To establish a drug possession charge, prosecutors must prove that the accused knowingly and intentionally had control of an illegal substance. They must also establish that the accused intended to use the drug and knew that the drugs were present.
A person can be charged with drug trafficking if they have sold or offered to sell a particular substance. Even holding out fake drugs for sale is an offence and sufficient for a trafficking charge to be made out. The exchange of money is also not required; a mere transfer of a controlled substance can amount to trafficking. There are different schedules under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) which set mandatory minimum penalties depending on what kind of drug was being trafficked.