I’ve been charged with Drug Possession. What do I need to know?
You commit the crime of Drug Possession if you do one of these things with a drug or substance listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA):
- carry the drug or substance with you
- agree to let someone else carry the drug or substance for you
- put the drug or substance somewhere so you can go back for it later
- agree with someone else to put the drug or substance somewhere so you or someone else can go back for it later
You can also be charged with Obtaining a Substance. This is when you try to get a drug or substance from a medical practitioner like a doctor without telling the practitioner the truth about why you are getting the drug. For example, getting and filling a prescription from one doctor, and then going to another doctor for more of the same prescription even though you already got what you need
The drugs and substances in the CDSA
There are lists of drugs and substances in the CDSA. These lists are referred to as “schedules”.
You can only be charged with Drug Possession for the drugs and substances listed in Schedules I, II, or III.
You can be charged with Obtaining a Substance for the drugs and substances listed in Schedules I, II, III, or IV.
Schedule I is for “hard drugs” like cocaine, heroin, meth, and fentanyl. These drugs have a higher risk of addiction and are more likely to be abused. They cannot be purchased legally.
Schedule II is for different types of synthetic cannabinoids. You can learn more about the new laws on cannabis on the Steps to Justice website.
Schedule III substances typically have a lower risk of addiction or abuse. Many can cause you to hallucinate or experience psychedelic effects. Some of these drugs cannot be purchased legally by members of the public, for example, LSD and magic mushrooms. Some of these drugs are available with a prescription, for example, Ritalin and some sleeping pills. Some of these drugs are available on the shelves in pharmacies, for example, some cough suppressants.
Schedule IV includes a wide variety of drugs. Many of them are commonly used as sedatives, pain relievers, or steroids. Some may be available from a pharmacist, for example, Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Salvia.
The maximum you can get for either Drug Possession or Obtaining a Substance is:
- If the Crown proceeds :
- If this is your first offence: $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail or both
- If this is your second or more : $2,000 fine or 1 year in jail or both
- If the Crown proceeds by :
- 7 years in prison for a Schedule I drug
- 5 years in prison for a Schedule II drug
- 3 years in prison for a Schedule III drug
- 18 months in jail for a Schedule IV drug (only applies to Obtaining a Substance)