What are drug trafficking offences?
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WHAT ARE PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES?
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA”) contains a list of drugs that are illegal to have and illegal to traffic or sell. The lists can be found in the CDSA in what are called “Schedules.” There are four categories of drugs that are prohibited as can be found in those schedules.
SO WHICH DRUGS ARE PROHIBITED?
The CDSA lists a large variety of banned substances including: opium, heroin, methadone, cocaine, codeine, oxycodone, morphine, PCP (or “angel dust”), psilocybin (or “magic mushrooms”), and LSD.
Some substances are completely banned, while others are listed as only available under certain limited conditions such as having a doctor’s prescription for the substance.
WHAT IS TRAFFICKING?
Trafficking simply means to deal or trade in something illegal. A drug trafficking offence occurs when a person traffics a prohibited substance listed in the four CDSA Schedules. A drug trafficking offence can include the activity more commonly known as “drug dealing.”
DRUG TRAFFICKING HAS A BROAD MEANING
Under the CDSA, drug trafficking means to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the prohibited substance, and to sell an authorization to obtain the substance such as a doctor’s prescription. There does not have to be an exchange of money for drugs in order for the activity to be considered trafficking. Trafficking includes even offering to do any of these activities.
HOW IS DRUG TRAFFICKING PROVEN?
First, the Crown Prosecutor must demonstrate that you trafficked in the substance or that you offered to traffic in the substance. Second, the drug or substance must fall within one of the prohibited categories stated in the CDSA.
HOW IS THE TRAFFICKING OF FAKE DRUGS TREATED?
The CDSA also states that a trafficking offence can occur even when the substance being trafficked is being falsely represented as any of the drugs listed in the schedules of prohibited substances. For example, if a person is falsely selling table salt to customers as cocaine, they could be charged with a drug trafficking offence.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING?
The penalties for drug trafficking under the CDSA depend on the type of substances trafficked. “Hard Drugs” (such as opium, opioids, cocaine, amphetamines, meth, ketamine, and ecstasy) can hold a maximum life sentence and, in certain circumstances, a minimum sentence of 1 or 2 years jail. Hallucinogens (such as LSD, psilocybin, and DMT) can hold a maximum sentence of 10 years jail. Pharmaceuticals (such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and anabolic steroids) can hold a maximum sentence of 3 years jail.
COMPOUNDING SENTENCING FACTORS FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING
In addition to the charges of trafficking, there is the possibility for charges for importing, exporting, and production. These additional offences have the possibility of long jail sentences, with some even having mandatory minimums. These compounding charges can increase the potential risk of a more serious sentence. It is important to consult with a lawyer immediately if charged with a drug offence.