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What Amount of Drugs is Considered Trafficking in Canada? An In-depth Analysis

What Amount of Drugs is Considered Trafficking in Canada?

In Canada, drug offences are a serious matter. Among the most severe charges an individual can face is drug trafficking, which often carries heavier penalties than simple possession. But when does possession of drugs shift from personal use to an amount that’s considered drug trafficking? Let’s break it down.

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)

The foundation of Canada’s drug laws can be found in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). This legislation classifies drugs into various schedules and sets out the penalties for offences like drug possession, drug trafficking, drug production, and drug import/export.

Defining Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking, according to the CDSA, involves not just selling drugs, but also administering, giving, transferring, transporting, sending, or delivering them. Even offering to do any of these activities can lead to a drug trafficking charge. It’s important to note that drug trafficking isn’t solely based on the amount; the act and intent play crucial roles.

Quantities that Signal Drug Trafficking

While the CDSA sets out penalties for drug trafficking, it doesn’t explicitly define the amount of a substance that qualifies as drug trafficking. Instead, the quantity is often one piece of evidence among others that can indicate an intent to traffic rather than just personal use.

However, law enforcement and the courts frequently rely on established precedents and guidelines. For instance, certain quantities of drugs might be considered as “for the purpose of drug trafficking” due to their sheer volume, making personal consumption implausible.

To get a clearer idea of such amounts, let’s look at some examples:

  • Cannabis: Before its legalization, possession of over 30 grams of dried cannabis was often seen as an indicator of intent to traffic.
  • Cocaine: Small amounts might be seen as personal use, but possession of several grams or more, especially when divided into individual packages, might suggest drug trafficking.
  • Methamphetamines or MDMA: Possession of dozens of pills or a significant amount of powder could be seen as beyond personal use.

Other Indicative Factors

It’s not just the amount that can lead to a drug trafficking charge. Other factors include:

  • How the drug is packaged (e.g., individual doses for sale)
  • Possession of large sums of cash
  • Possession of paraphernalia associated with drug distribution, such as scales, baggies, or a client list
  • Witness testimonies or undercover operations that show intent to sell

Penalties for Drug Trafficking

The penalties for drug trafficking can vary depending on the substance involved and its schedule classification under the CDSA. For instance, drug trafficking substances from Schedule I, like cocaine, can lead to life imprisonment, while substances from other schedules may have lighter penalties.


Determining what amount of drugs is considered trafficking in Canada isn’t a straightforward calculation. While quantities can give an indication, the overall context, intent, and other evidence play a significant role. If you find yourself facing drug-related charges, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of the law.

Need Expert Legal Counsel on Drug Trafficking Charges?

If you or someone you know is facing drug trafficking charges or has questions about Canada’s drug laws, reach out to Karapancev Law. As an experienced drug trafficking lawyer in Toronto, we specialize in providing expert guidance and representation in drug-related cases. Don’t go through this alone; contact us today for the assistance and defence you need.

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev

Alexander Karapancev is a Toronto criminal lawyer practicing throughout the province of Ontario. He regularly serves as lead trial counsel on serious and complex criminal cases. He is the founder of Karapancev Law, a law firm representing clients facing criminal charges, regulatory offences, and professional discipline proceedings.

Mr. Karapancev has acted as counsel in hundreds of cases throughout the province of Ontario, regularly representing clients at trials, applications, bail hearings and preliminary inquiries. He is regularly retained to defend individuals charged with serious allegations of fraud, drug trafficking, DUI offences, domestic assault, and sexual assault. Prior to founding his law firm, Mr. Karapancev practiced criminal defence at a boutique Toronto law firm and also served as a per diem Crown prosecutor.

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