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What Are the Drug Possession Laws in Canada?

Drug possession is the charge of having a drug listed on the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) in your possession. There are eight separate schedules of controlled substances listed in this law. 

The Schedule of Drugs and the quantity of drugs possessed both affect the criminal penalty for drug possession. Drugs are considered to be in your possession if you have them on your person, knowingly allow someone else to have them, or intentionally store them where you may get access to them. 

The majority of the time, drug offences in Canada are prosecuted under Sections 4–7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Canada arranges controlled chemicals according to schedules. Schedule I drugs include opiates (like heroin), cocaine, methamphetamine, other amphetamines (like MDMA), and countless more less-common narcotics. Schedule II substances include marijuana and its derivatives. Schedule III contains a variety of medications and hallucinogenic drugs. Under Schedule IV, it is unlawful to seek, traffic in, or export several medications, though they are allowed to be possessed. Additional schedules address cannabis used for personal use and materials that can be used to make illegal narcotics.


Contrary to popular belief, the CDSA’s definition of possession is rather broad. It includes not only having illegal substances on your person but also: 

• Being aware that drugs are in another person’s possession or custody while also exerting some level of control over them. 
• Possessing narcotics for your own or another person’s use or benefit in any area, whether or not that location belongs to or is occupied by you. 

Many people are shocked to hear that you can be prosecuted for drug possession even if the drugs are not in your physical possession. Constructive possession and shared possession are two ways that drug possession might be committed. When you don’t have any drugs on you or in your possession, but you still have some degree of control over them, that is referred to as constructive possession. Joint possession is when other individuals have actual possession of the drugs with your knowledge and consent. 

Drug Trafficking laws in Canada

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (“CDSA”) makes it illegal to possess a scheduled substance with the intent to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send, or deliver it. This is known as possession for the purpose of trafficking. Despite not being a criminal offence under the Criminal Code, possession for the purpose of trafficking is tried in the same manner and has the same repercussions. 

To secure a conviction for possession for the purpose to traffic, the Crown must demonstrate the following beyond a reasonable doubt: 

• You had a controlled substance in your possession, as prescribed in the Controlled Substances and Substances Act. 
• You were aware that you had a controlled substance in your possession. 
• You were not authorized to have the substance. 
• You had the drug in your possession with the intention of trafficking it.

In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must demonstrate that the drug discovered was an illegal substance and that the accused had it in his or her possession. the Crown must also show that the accused had the narcotics for the purpose of providing or selling them to others. 

Different punishments may be imposed under Canadian law based on the kind and quantity of drugs involved. Controlled substances are divided into “schedules” under the CDSA. As discussed above, Drugs are categorised according to their chemical makeup.

Hard narcotics trafficking as well as possession with the intent to traffic them both carry harsh punishments. The maximum punishment for narcotics on a Schedule 1 or 2 is life in jail. Penalties for less serious trafficking offences can vary from nine to twelve months in jail. 

Drug trafficking is defined by courts as giving or distributing a controlled substance to another person. Although monetary gain is not a requirement for the crime, the prosecution will almost definitely ask for harsher punishments if they can prove that the crime was committed for financial benefit. The Crown will seek a harsher sentence if there is sufficient proof that the accused profited from a well-organized distribution system.

Drug Lawyer Toronto

If you or a loved one is involved in a significant drug-trafficking case or a drug possession case, you will need a knowledgeable and highly trained drug lawyer. Contact Mr. Karapancev for a free assessment of your case. 

In spite of what appeared to be overwhelming evidence, Toronto drug trafficking lawyer Alex Karapancev often secures acquittals, dismissals, and other favourable outcomes for clients accused of drug dealing. He has extensive knowledge of search-and-seizure legislation and constitutional issues, and he has successfully argued for the exclusion of evidence in a number of proceedings.

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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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