Punishments for drug possession established in the Criminal Code

In Canada, it is strictly prohibited to consume, purchase or sell various types of drugs. According to the Criminal Code, the legal definition of drug possession is the possession of any classified substance listed in the Drug Act. The simple fact of possessing these substances is considered a criminal offense, regardless of the quantity. This prohibition is established in Article 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and, if violated, can result in a criminal record.

What drugs are prohibited by the Criminal Code?

Canadian law classifies banned substances under five different categories. While not an exhaustive listing, they include the following:

  • Schedule 1: opium, cocaine, morphine, codeine, methadone, heroin, phencyclidine (PCP, ketamine), methamphetamine, amphetamines, fentanyls
  • Schedule 2: cannabis (marijuana) and cannabis resin (hashish) for persons under 21 years of age
  • Schedule 3: mescaline, psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
  • Schedule 4: barbiturates, anabolic steroids, salvia
  • Schedule 5: ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

Details regarding cannabis

As of October 17, 2018, recreational use of marijuana has been legal in the country. Even though everyone is aware of this change, it’s important to make a few clarifications, as certain restrictions still apply:

  • No one under 21 years of age is authorized to possess cannabis or give it to another person.
  • In accordance with federal law, the maximum permissible amount that can be kept at home is 150 grams (30 grams in public places).

Please note that, while federal law authorizes growing up to four plants at home, cannabis cultivation is prohibited in the province of Quebec.

It is also prohibited for anyone to possess cannabis in certain places, including places that are mostly frequented by minors and certain places of learning, with the exception of residences for university students. Additionally, cannabis must be stored securely in such a way that it is not easily accessible to minors.

What are the penalties for drug possession?

The punishments established in the Criminal Code for drug possession can vary widely, depending on the substance. The term of imprisonment can also vary, depending on the quantity of drugs found and the offender’s criminal record. Furthermore, if a person is found guilty for a second time, the penalty may be more severe.

Examples of punishments

  • Possession of cannabis above the legal limit:
    • Fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of 6 months imprisonment for a first offense
    • Up to 5 years minus 1 day of imprisonment, when tried as an indictable offence
    • In the event of a repeat offense, a maximum fine of $2,000 and a maximum of 1 year of imprisonment (only one or the other of these punishments, when tried as a summary conviction offence)
  • Possession of any amount of opium, cocaine, morphine, codeine, methadone or phencyclidine (PCP, ketamine):
    • Fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of 7 months imprisonment

Drug trafficking

According to Article 5 (1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, trafficking of the above-mentioned drugs is prohibited. If you are found guilty of possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, you could face a sentence of up to life in prison if you are part of a criminal organization, if you resorted to violence during the commission of the offense, if you used or threatened to use a weapon, or if you have been convicted of a designated offense or have served a prison term as a consequence such offense.

Consult a criminal lawyer

If you’ve been accused of drug possession or trafficking, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are enforced. Available 24/7 in case of emergency, Martine Thibodeau will defend your interests rigorously and meticulously.

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