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Drug Possession Laws in Canada

Criminal Code & Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

Navigating the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

If you have been charged with a crime in Canada, you should consult with a criminal defence lawyer in your area

Drug Possession - Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Legal Terms

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act sets the rules about unlawful drugs in Canada and defines "schedules" or categories based on their perceived personal and public safety dangers. It also set out the punishment for individuals who engage in the possession, trafficking, and production of those drugs.

Controlled substance

Any type of drug that the federal government has categorized as having a higher-than-average potential for abuse or addiction. Its manufacture, possession or use is regulated by the government through the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Criminal Code

The Criminal Code is a federal statute that defines and sets out punishments for most of the criminal offences that the Parliament of Canada has enacted.

Hybrid offence

Hybrid offences fall between a summary and an indictable offence. The Crown prosecutor chooses whether to treat the offence as a summary or indictable offence.

Indictable offence

Indictable offences are the most serious offences under the Criminal Code and they come with more serious punishments, up to a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Reasonable doubt

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that reasonable doubt “falls much closer to absolute certainty than to proof on a balance of probabilities” and “that something less than absolute certainty is required, and that something more than probable guilt is required."

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs are commonly characterized as “hard drugs.” They include street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and opium and numerous pharmaceutical-grade drugs such as oxycodone and morphine. Schedule I drugs show a high risk of dependency. See Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs include synthetic cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonists, their salts, derivatives, isomers, and salts of derivatives and isomers. Until 2018 this category included drugs falling within the cannabis family but are now dealt with under the Cannabis Act. See Schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs include the amphetamine family, including methamphetamine and lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. Most hallucinogens are classified under Schedule III. See Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs include popular pharmaceuticals such as diazepam, benzodiazepine and anabolic steroids. See Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule V

Schedule V lists a group of novel fentanyl precursors used in the illegal production of fentanyl and substances chemically related to fentanyl. See Schedule V of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Summary offence

Summary offences are less-serious criminal offences such as disturbing the peace or unlawful assembly

Drug Possession - Referenced Links