There are five main types of drug related offences. 

  • Possession
  • Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking
  • Trafficking
  • Production
  • Importing. 

The penalties associated with each of these charges will vary depending on the type and the amount of the drug involved. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act categorizes all controlled substances into “Schedules”. 

What You Need to Know

  • The maximum penalty for Possession of a Schedule I substance is seven (7) years imprisonment.
  • Where a person is in possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance it may raise a presumption that the person intended to traffic in that substance. The maximum punishment for this offence is ten (10) years imprisonment. 
  • Trafficking, Producing, or Importing a Schedule I or II substance are indictable offences, the maximum punishment for which is life imprisonment, and the minimum sentence will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence. 


For most drug related offences it is necessary for the Crown to establish that the Accused had possession of the substance. Possession can be personal, constructive, or joint, but in all circumstances a Possession charge requires both knowledge and consent. Further, in order to prove Consent the Crown must establish that the Accused had an element of control over the substance. It is possible to establish a defence by negating any one of these essential elements. 

As the investigations leading up to these charges usually involve searches, either of a person or property, it is often possible to raise constitutional challenges. Where a search is conducted with or without a warrant, it is incumbent on police to ensure that they do not overstep the limits of their authority. If a Charter breach is established it may be possible to have the results of the search excluded from evidence, and thereby avoid a conviction.