DRUG OFFENCES (POSSESSION / TRAFFICKING / PRODUCTION)
Whether directly, or indirectly through related violence, extortion, firearms and organized crime offences, drug prosecutions have come to dominate the landscape of criminal justice in British Columbia. Particularly in the larger centres like Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Prince George and their surrounding areas, police agencies have dedicated ever-growing resources to the so-called “war” on drugs.
Although there is a very spirited debate in Canadian society about the decriminalization or even legalization of marijuana, police and the federal prosecution service continue to crack down on all manner of drug offences, including simple possession, possession for the purposes of trafficking, trafficking, production, importation and related money offences like laundering and proceeds of crime.
Just ten years ago, it seemed that most prosecutions involved marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin. This “centre stage” has become crowded, however, with prosecutions for offences involving ecstasy, crystal methamphetamine, oxycontin and oxycodone as well as ketamine.
It is imperative that if a person is charged with any type of drug offence, he or she obtain high-quality legal advice immediately. To obtain convictions for these offences, police and Crown must prove that the accused had possession in law, which means that he or she had knowledge, control and consent. The evidence against the accused must have been obtained legally, meaning that many prosecutions are vulnerable to challenges on the basis that evidence was obtained illegally, or in violation of the accused’s rights – whether that followed a search after arrest, a search warrant, a wiretap or any other type of search.