Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, it is illegal to possess a number of narcotics. The most common drugs that are subject to prosecution are marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine. The Act also covers many narcotics that are available through prescription but cannot be possessed without a proper prescription.
A possession charge does not require that you have the substance on your physical person. You can be in possession of a narcotic if it is located in a residence, vehicle, job site, or any other place that can be associated with you. The issue for consideration is whether you have knowledge of the presence of the drug in question, and you have control over it. Control means the ability to make decisions about the substance or what is done with it.
Potential defences to a possession of narcotic charge include:
1. The bringing of a charter application alleging a breach of one's rights against an unreasonable search and seizure, an arbitrary detention, an interference with rights to counsel or a breach of one's rights to security of the person; and/or
2. Showing that the accused person either did not have, or would not have, knowledge of the substance in the circumstances of where it was located, or that if there was knowledge, that the person would not have had the requisite control of it.
The penalties for a conviction for a drug possession vary depending on the nature and quantity of the narcotic in question. Maximum penalties range from fines and short periods of incarceration for small amounts of marijuana to penitentiary sentences for more serious drugs, like heroin and cocaine. The determination of the appropriate sentence is based on a wide variety of factors including the background of the offender, the circumstances of the offence and the perceived view of society of the offence in question. It is not unusual for possession charges of small amounts of narcotics, particularly less serious narcotics like marijuana, to involve sentences that do not have any jail and may even allow for an individual to avoid a criminal conviction.