As Vancouver Criminal Lawyers we have extensive experience defending all drug charges, from Simple Possession of Marijuana to Trafficking of Cocaine and Heroin. Whether possession of hard drugs or simple recreational marijuana use, we have the knowledge and experience to defend drug charges.
About Drug Charges in Canada
Drug offences are set down in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, (formerly the Narcotics Control Act) with the prohibited or controlled substances listed in schedules attached to the Act. The Federal Government is responsible for the prosecution of Drug Offenses. The prosecutors work for The Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
The drug offences are:
- Possession of a Prohibited or Controlled Substance
- Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purposes of Trafficking
- Trafficking in a Prohibited or Controlled Substance
- Producing, Cultivating or Growing a Controlled Substance
- Importing, Exporting or Possessing for the Purpose of Exporting a Controlled Substance
As with all Criminal Offenses, the investigation, arrest and prosecution must be in accordance with the Rights described in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Included is the right to be presumed innocent and not to be found guilty unless the allegation is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the judge is satisfied that the evidence obtained by the police, (usually the drug) was obtained in a manner that violated the defendant’s rights, on Application by the Criminal Lawyer, the judge may dismiss the charges.
Cannabis / Marijuana
In the late 1960s a Senate committee recommended that Parliament re-write the law so that simple possession of marihuana would no longer be considered a criminal offence. In our view this was correct 40 years ago and it is correct today. Nevertheless, successive governments have either been cowardly, irrationally moralistic or unnecessarily sluggish in de-criminalizing simple possession of marijuana. Our current federal government is both cowardly in that they are frightened of the response of the US government, and irrationally moralistic, in that they believe that marihuana use is sinful.
In our view, marijuana cannot sensibly be distinguished from alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes. All of these substances are widely consumed, historically used and have various deleterious effects. The deleterious effects of marihuana use appear to be less than that of alcohol. The addictive properties appear to be negligible compared to cigarettes or even alcohol. Simply put, there is no logical reason for the prohibition on the possession of marihuana. Still, in Canada possessing any amount of marihuana is a crime.
Possession of a Controlled Substance – Hard Drugs
The Canadian government has always taken a firm stance on the prosecution of cases involving hard drugs such as Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamines. These narcotics are known to be highly addictive. Regular people who start as recreational users of hard drugs will often become addicts. In many cases their lives are destroyed by their drug addiction. To feed their addiction, they turn to other crimes.
The focus for first time offenders charged with simple possession of a controlled substance should be rehabilitation. In a just society, the goal would be to rehabilitate the individual and to deter them from using these substances in the future. Generally speaking, however, the police and the Federal Government have taken the view that labelling these people criminals and giving them a criminal record is the appropriate approach.
In the right case, a Criminal Lawyer can demonstrate that the best interests society and of the person charged is to assist in rehabilitating the defendant and NOT to destroy their life by giving them a criminal record.
Each case is different. However, we have a long and successful history of helping people avoid a criminal record for drug charges.
Cultivating / Growing Marijuana (grow-ops)
As the government in Ottawa changes, so does drug policy. The courts are required to apply the laws written by the government. It is widely believed that marijuana offences are not considered as serious by the government or the courts. This is incorrect. As it stands, Cultivating Marijuana and the Possession of Marijuana for the purposes of Trafficking are considered serious offences that call for a jail sentence. The maximum sentence for cultivating marijuana is up to seven years in prison.
From time to time regular people who have no history of committing criminal offences will be lured into growing marihuana to help a friend or in the hopes of earning some quick money.
In the right case we have got the charges dropped or won acquittals for people who were found running away from a marijuana grow operation, living in a home above a grow-op and even working in a grow-op (and covered from head to toe in fresh bud).
We know how to defend marijuana cultivation charges.
Dial-A-Dope Trafficking Charges
Young men and women are often recruited to deliver drugs in what is commonly referred to in court as dial-a-dope operations. This is particularly common in the Lower Mainland of BC. The typical arrest occurs when the accused delivers drugs to an under-cover officer, or the police observe the transaction and either make the arrest or start an investigation. If the suspect is under surveillance, the police will usually pull over their vehicle for an innocuous reason, such as speeding or a seat-belt violation, in order to positively identify the suspect and other suspects in the vehicle. At some later time, from minutes to months later, the police move in for the arrest.
In most cases the accused is found to possess hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or amphetamines such as ecstasy and crystal meth. The prosecution invariably seeks a jail sentence, usually in the range of 9 months to 2 years for first time offenders, depending on the circumstances including the amount and types of narcotics located, the sophistication of the operation and the length of time it has operated.
The decision to participate in a drug-delivery operation is a decision to enter into a life of crime. Often the young men and women who enter into these arrangements feel that they are on the road to affluence. They may have a sense of right and wrong, but they put that aside for the chance to make easy money. However, economists who study drug dealers have determined that street-level drug dealers make relatively little money before they are caught. And eventually everyone is caught.
The fact of the arrest cannot be changed. The main goal, from the perspective of the court, is to stop the accused from continuing in a life of crime and to deter others from such activities. From the court’s perspective, the way to do this may be to send the young man to jail.
We have a history in our office of turning young men and women away from a life of crime while protecting them from the harsh punishment regularly handed out by the court. In the right case, our clients have avoided a criminal record and gone on to become respected, well-educated citizens.
We do not accept every case. But if you are serious about dealing with the charges, call to make an appointment for a free consultation. 604-685-8889