All Drug Offences

Drug-related offences are among some of the more serious charges prosecuted in Canada and more often than not, involve Charter litigation of some sort. Possession, trafficking, production and importing are all types of drug offences that can come with serious long term consequences if convicted.


Drug Lawyer Toronto, Drug Lawyers Toronto It may be tempting to represent yourself on a minor drug charge, but you should reconsider.

Convictions for the production, trafficking, and possession of drugs fall under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CSDA). Even a minor CSDA conviction can have serious, enduring consequences on your life. A criminal record for drugs can impact many aspects of a person’s life, including employment and international travel.

Issues that may arise up with Drug Offences

Drug offences can be particularly complex; charges and possible sentences vary significantly. Some issues that may arise in drug sentences are:

  • The type of drug
  • Quantity of the substance
  • Purpose for its possession
  • Amount of planning and deliberation pertaining to the offence
  • Prior record of the offender
  • Whether there was trafficking of other drugs involved.

Substances defined as "hard drugs," like heroin and cocaine, carry more severe sentences than so-called "soft drugs" like marijuana. Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking, Trafficking, and Production will result in harsher punishment than simple Possession.

"Trafficking" is a broad term, and includes anything from transporting and selling drugs to simply giving someone a drug. For example, sharing a "hit" of an illegal drug is considered trafficking.

"Possession" is another sweeping and multifaceted criminal charge. Many people believe being charged with possession requires personally holding a drug. However, one may be charged for simply being in the presence of someone with a drug. A group of people may be found guilty of Joint Possession. This occurs if any member of a party is holding drugs with the knowledge, consent, and assisted control of the others. Charges may also apply if an individual has stored drugs anywhere under their control.

"Production" includes any aspect of growing or producing drugs. Even assistants in the growth and production process can be incriminated. A property owner who knowingly allows others to use their premises for drug production may also face charges. 

“Willful Blindness” is not a defence to a drug charge-- one does not need definitive proof or firsthand knowledge that a drug offence is taking place in order to be complicit.

The law surrounding drug offences can be extremely complex. You need a criminal defence lawyer whose knowledge and experience can provide the legal representation you deserve.

Our law firm has successfully represented hundreds of individuals facing drug offences. If you or a loved one has been charged, call Caramanna, Friedberg LLP at (416) 924-5969 for a free consultation. We are here to help 24/7.  

Frequently Asked Questions

You will be charged with a drug offence if you are found to be in possession of a controlled substance or involved in the trafficking, importing, exporting, or production a controlled substance, as outlined under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. View More

The Criminal Code prohibits people from driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or both. While cannabis is legal in Canada, you can still be charged with impaired driving if you have between two and five nanograms (or higher) of THC per ml of blood in your system. When alcohol and cannabis have been taken in combination, the prohibited level is 50mg or more of alcohol per 100ml of blood and 2.5 nanograms or more of THC per ml of blood.

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  • For a Schedule I Substance, the potential penalties are:
    • If Crown proceeds by summary conviction:
      • For a first offence: Maximum fine of $1000 and a term of imprisonment not seeking 6 months
      • For a subsequent offence: Maximum fine of $2000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
    • If Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum punishment of 7 years imprisonment.
  • For a Schedule II Substance:
    • If Crown proceeds by summary conviction:
      • For a first offence: Maximum fine of $1000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
      • For a subsequent offence: Maximum fine of $2000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
    • If Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum punishment of 5 years less a day imprisonment
  • For a Schedule III Substance:
    • If Crown proceeds by summary conviction:
      • For a first offence: Maximum fine of $1000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
      • For a subsequent offence: Maximum fine of $2000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
    • If Crown proceeds by indictment: maximum punishment of 3 years imprisonment
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The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act established eight Schedules of controlled substances. Possession of a Schedule I and Schedule II substance are the most common possession offences. Schedule I includes the most harmful drugs, such as heroin-based substances and cocaine. Schedule II focuses on marijuana, hashish and its derivatives. Schedules III-IV include other common substances such as mushrooms, ecstasy, and steroids.

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In Ontario, judges commonly have Possession of a Schedule I or II Substance or Possession of a Schedule I or II Substance for the purpose of trafficking offences appearing before them.

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  • Factual Innocence: If the Crown is unable to prove the essential elements (such as knowledge on the part of the accused) of the particular offence beyond a reasonable doubt, they will have failed to discharge their burden, and the accused will be acquitted.
  • Violation of Charter Rights: Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals are afforded specific rights, including:
    • the right against unreasonable search and seizure;
    • the right to not be arbitrarily detained;
    • the right to be informed promptly of the reasons for arrest;
    • the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay; and
    • the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

A successful Charter challenge may also result in a stay of proceedings, or evidence from your case being excluded.

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Penalties for Possession range anywhere between a maximum of six months imprisonment (plus fines) to 7 years imprisonment, depending on:

  • the substance possessed;
  • whether it was a first or subsequent offence; and
  • How the Crown proceeded (summary conviction or indictment)

Penalties for Trafficking drugs range from a maximum punishment of 1 year imprisonment up to life imprisonment, depending on:

  • the substance(s) trafficked; and
  • whether the Crown proceeded by summary conviction or indictment (Schedule I and II offences are straight indictable).

There are mandatory minimum sentences in place where any of the following factors are present:

  • violence was used or threatened during the offence;
  • a weapon was carried, used, or threatened in committing the offence;
  • the accused had a previous conviction for a designated substance offence;
  • the offence was committed near school grounds or a public place where people under the age of 18 frequent;
  • the accused committed the offence in prison; and
  • the accused used the services of someone under the age of 18;

Penalties for Production of drugs range from 1 year imprisonment to life imprisonment, depending on:

  • the substance produced;
  • how the Crown proceeded (summary conviction or indictment); and
  • whether the substance was produced for the purpose of trafficking

The following factors are also taken into account when sentencing for the offence of Production of a Schedule I or II substance:

  • the person used real property that belongs to a third party in committing the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to persons under the age of 18 years who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; or
  • the person set or placed a trap, device or other thing that is likely to cause death or bodily harm to another person in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area, or permitted such a trap, device or other thing to remain or be placed in that location or area.
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To prove possession the Crown must prove that the accused had knowledge and control of the substance.

To prove possession for the purpose of trafficking, in addition to having to prove that the accused had knowledge and control, the Crown so also required to prove that the accused intended to traffic the substance.

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Lack of knowledge is a defence to a possession of trafficking charge. The Crown is required to prove that the accused had knowledge of the presence of the substance. If they fail to prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt, the offence will not be made out.

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The offence of trafficking is taken more serious than possession, and has stricter penalties. Whether one is charged with possession or trafficking often comes down to the amount of drugs the accused had on his person.

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