The Law of Possession of Drugs for the Purpose of Trafficking

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There are several types of drug offences that police may charge a person with, depending upon the facts of each case. From “simple” possession of a drug in a small amount, to possession offences “for the purposes of trafficking”, being charged with a drug offence can cause issues relating to travel and employment.

The Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) prohibits possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking. To prove this offence, the crown must establish that a person had possession of the illegal drug with the intention of making it available to others. Just because someone has a larger quantity of drugs does not mean that the prosecutor will be able to prove that the possession, if they can prove that in and of itself, was for the purpose of trafficking, not just for personal consumption.

Oftentimes, police will find the large quantity of drugs during the execution of a search warrant. For example, while searching the home of a suspected drug trafficker, the police may uncover what they believe to be illegal drugs. The police then seize the substance, weigh it, and ultimately test it to determine if it is in fact an illegal or “scheduled” (illegal) substance. That does not end the analysis, however. The prosecutor, with the assistance of the police, must obtain an opinion from an expert who will look at all of the surrounding circumstances and facts to establish if in fact the quantity and circumstances of the case meet the definition of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Sometimes the offence of possession for the purposes of trafficking arises as a secondary charge in relation to another valid investigation. For example, police may have entered the home of a fighting couple only to discover drugs being prepared for sale in plain view on a coffee table.

A misconception is that this offence can only arise if the police find a large quantity of drugs. However, it is common for police to gather other suspected evidence of trafficking in their investigations besides the actual drugs. For example, the police may find items such as weighing scales, bags, debt lists, and large quantities of cash.

The penalties for a possession for the purposes of trafficking offence range depending on the type of drug found. Higher penalties are generally the case for drugs such as Fentanyl. The reason for the different penalties is due to the particular scheduled substance’s perceived harm to society and also the more lucrative compensation associated with its distribution. There are several factors that may make a sentence higher, if convicted, such as additional charges like possession of weapons.

Drug offences, such as possession for the purposes of trafficking, are a highly technical area of the law to defend. They usually involve a detailed analysis of the police conduct in obtaining the evidence used by the crown. For example, it is important for the Defence to ensure that your rights were not violated by a lack of proper procedure during a police investigation. If your rights have been violated, I will work with you to get the appropriate remedy for this violation, which can include having the charges against you dismissed.