The law relating to marijuana is currently in a state of flux, as Parliament considers what criminal law ramifications legalization will bring. This page reflects the law as it currently stands. As we learn more about the new types of charges that will accompany legalization, this page will be updated to account for any new developments.
Drug offences are treated seriously by the criminal justice system. Individuals convicted of drug offences face not only the possibility of a hefty fine and sentence, but may also face problems obtaining employment and travelling outside of Canada.
Many drug offences, including some offences related to marijuana production and trafficking, carry mandatory minimum sentences that must be applied if certain criteria are met. While it is always important to consult a lawyer before deciding to plead guilty, given the serious penalties involved, it is even more vital in cases with mandatory minimum sentences. Before making the decision to plead guilty, contact a lawyer to obtain information about the various options open to you.
What are the Different Types of Drug Offences?
The main types of Drug Offences are:
- Possession (s. 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act)
- Trafficking and Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (s. 5 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act); and
- Production, which would include growing marijuana (s. 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act).
What are the Potential Penalties if you are Convicted of a Drug Offence?
The penalties for drug offences convictions vary widely. They range from a discharge, which results in no criminal record, to life imprisonment. The penalty you could be facing will depend largely upon the type of drug involved and the circumstances surrounding your offence.
However, you should be aware that certain Drug Trafficking Offences carry mandatory minimum sentences. If you are convicted of possession for the purposes of trafficking or trafficking in certain types of drugs (see Schedules I and II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for a complete list), you could be facing a minimum sentence of one year imprisonment if:
- the offence was committed in association with a criminal organization;
- you used or threatened to use violence in committing the offence;
- you carried, used or threatened to use a weapon in committing the offence; or
- you were previously convicted of or had served a term of imprisonment for a designated substance offence within the previous 10 years.
You could be facing a minimum term of two years imprisonment if the offence:
- was committed in or near a school or any other public place where persons under the age of 18 years are usually present,
- was committed in a prison or on prison grounds, or
- involved a person under the age of 18 years.
However, if you were convicted of possession for the purposes of trafficking or trafficking and the subject matter of the offence was less than 3 kilograms of marijuana, the mandatory minimum sentence would not apply. The maximum sentence for this offence is 5 years less a day.
The maximum sentence for growing marijuana is 14 years imprisonment. The minimum sentence depends upon the number of plants and the particular circumstances of the case.
How can DUVADIE Law Defend against your Drug Offence Charges?
DUVADIE Law has the knowledge and experience necessary to defend against your Drug Offence charges. We will raise any and all defences available to you.
For example, it may be possible to challenge the validity of a search warrant that was used to locate the drugs or to argue that the drugs should not be admitted into evidence because of the way the search was undertaken.
Even if drugs are found in your home or car, it is not a foregone conclusion that you will be found guilty of possession. In order for you to be convicted, you must be found to be have “care or control” of the drugs. If it can be established that the drugs did not belong to you and you were not aware that someone had put them in your house or car, you cannot be found to be exercising “care or control” over them.
If you are facing a trafficking charge, it may be possible to argue that you should only be liable for the lesser offence of possession as you had no intent to sell the drugs.
If you are facing a drug charge, please call DUVADIE Law at 613-422-1155 or Toll-Free at 1-855-422-1155 to set up your free 30 minute consultation and find out how we can assist in defending against your charges.
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