What is drug possession?
Under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA), it is illegal to have prohibited drugs in your possession at any time.
The Crown Attorney must prove that the item in question involved in a drug possession case is indeed an illegal drug according to the definition set by the CDSA. Without a medical exemption, the following drugs are illegal to possess in Canada: cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, GHB, heroin, ketamine, LSD, magic mushrooms, opium, among others.
To be convicted of drug possession, the Crown must prove that you had knowledge and control. On the other hand, the Crown need not prove ownership. They do not need to demonstrate you are the owner of the drugs for you to be convicted.
Can I be found guilty of drug charges if the drugs were found on someone else?
Yes, you can be charged (and convicted) if the drugs located are not in your possession, even if someone else is located with the controlled substances. This is called constructive possession. The Crown must still prove that you had knowledge and control over the drugs.
For example, during the execution of a search warrant the police may seize drugs in a place which is not your residence. The Crown can prove that this residence was a “stash house” used by your to store your drugs. Another example is someone who is driving a vehicle wherein drug was found and seized from a compartment or the trunk. Even though it is not in your possession, if the Crown can prove that you had knowledge and control over the drugs a conviction could occur.
What is Possession for the Purpose (P4P)?
In addition to proving that an individual had knowledge and control of the drugs, the Crown must prove that the individual has the intent to give or sell the drugs. The Crown will typically call an expert witness who will, based on the circumstances of the case, provide an opinion that the possession of the drugs was for the purpose of trafficking.
The factors that the Court will examine to determine if a case is possession of a drug for the purpose of trafficking or not include:
• the amount of drugs involved;
• the monetary value of the drugs involved;
• the types and presence of drug paraphernalia found;
• the value amount of money found; and
• all statements uttered by the accused.
Since the focus is of the intention of the individual, the Crown does not need to prove that the drugs were trafficked or transferred. Since the Crown does not prove that the drugs were trafficked, an accused person could testify that the drugs in their possession were for personal use. This is a defence to possession for the purpose of trafficking but would ultimately be an admission of guilt to simple possession of drugs.
What is Drug Trafficking?
The Crown can prove trafficking by selling, an offering to sell or a transfer. Most people assume that drug trafficking involved the sale of controlled substances, but the Crown does not need to prove the sale of drugs. A transfer drugs is sufficient. For example, if you bring cocaine to a house party and share it with your friends, that would be enough to prove trafficking. A sale of drugs is not required either, since an offer to sell to someone can constitute drug trafficking.
Being convicted of drug charges, whether for possession or for trafficking, can severely impact your life. The criminal defence lawyers at Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh have many years of experiences successfully representing people for drug offences of all varieties and amounts. If you or someone you know needs representation for drug charges, please give us a call at 416-613-0416 to set up a consultation with one of our criminal lawyers.