Drug Offences Under Canadian Law

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Drug offences, actual and alleged, are an all too common cause for arrests, detentions, and charges brought before Calgary judges. Persons accused of drug offences in Calgary don't have to face the criminal justice system alone, however; not only do all people in Canada accused of any criminal defence have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer, they also have the right to know the laws they are accused of breaking and to seek a fair hearing and a just outcome.

Since knowing the law is your first step in protecting your rights, here you'll find a brief overview of how the Canadian criminal justice system views drug offences and what the possible punishments are for various drug-related offences.

Drug Offences and Possible Punishments Defined

While Canada, as most of the Western world, views simple drug use more as a public health concern than as a criminal problem, drug offences are still punishable within the criminal justice system and both fines and jail time are common outcomes in drug offence cases. The Controlled Drug and Substances Act outlines what constitutes a drug-related offence and lists the maximum punishments allowable for various offences based on the type of substance involved.

Maximum punishments for simple drug possession offences as defined in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act are as follows:

  • For Schedule I substances, imprisonment for up to seven years for an indictable offence, or a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail for a first offence punishable on summary conviction. Subsequent summary convictions can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail.
  • For Schedule II substances, imprisonment for five years less a day for indictable offences, or a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail for a first offence punishable on summary conviction. Subsequent summary convictions can lead to fines of up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail. When the amount of a substance at issue in a Schedule II offence does not exceed a certain limit set out in the Act, the punishment for a summary conviction is limited to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail. 
  • For Schedule III substances, the maximum prison sentence for an indictable offence is three years. The same fine and jail-time limitations apply to Schedule III-related summary convictions as are in place for offences involving Schedule I and Schedule II drugs and controlled substances. 

The schedules for controlled drugs and substances can be found here, and will be outlined in a later post on this site, as well.

You Don't Have to Face a Drug Offence Accusation Alone

The information provided here is only intended to give you a basic understanding of what you're facing if you've been charged with a drug offence involving simple possession. Every case is unique, and the details can be daunting. If you feel overwhelmed, confused, or simply over-stressed when trying to battle a drug offence accusation in the Calgary courts, it's your right to contact an experienced Calgary criminal defence lawyer.

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