Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (repealing the Narcotic Control Act)

5.(1)Trafficking in substance – No person shall traffic in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance.

(2) Possession for the purpose of trafficking – No person shall, for the purposes of trafficking, possess a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV.

To the surprise of some, the law in Canada makes no distinction between the offence of trafficking and the offence of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

In addition, people are often confused by the wide variety of activities which constitute trafficking. As defined in section 2(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to “traffic” means:

(a) to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the substance,
(b) to sell an authorization to obtain the substance, or
(c) to offer to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)

Trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking are subject to harsh sentencing guidelines as set out in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. A conviction in almost all circumstances requires the court to impose a period of imprisonment.


1) R. v. L.

Police investigators suspected heroin trafficking was taking place from a lakefront Kelowna home. They organized a sting operation aimed at luring any drug trafficker out of the home, and set up surveillance. After police pretended to arrange a buy, the accused was observed leaving the residence and attending at the specified location. She was immediately arrested and alleged to have been intending to sell the heroin located on her by police. Criminal lawyer Wade Jenson was retained to defend this very serious charge, which also jeopardized the client’s equity in the lakefront home. Following a 4-day jury trial, the jury returned with a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

2) R. v. K.

Accused stopped at police road check and discovered with a large quantity of marijuana and psilocybin in his vehicle, along with a scale. He was charged by indictment with two counts ofpossession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. A conviction on either of these charges would destroy his training and aspirations to work overseas. Admitting his fear to police ‘his life was over’, he came to criminal defence lawyer Wade Jenson for help. Wade Jenson negotiated a plea to a single count of simple possession, under which the Crown first agreed to proceed summarily. Wade Jenson then convinced the judge to grant anABSOLUTE DISCHARGE. The judge commented that he “can’t think of another case” where he had ever granted an absolute discharge in circumstances like this before. No jail, no fine, no record.

3) R. v. L.

Accused arrested with cocaine and methadone in quantities alleged to be for the purpose of trafficking. Following arrest, a search warrant was obtained for accused’s home where weigh scales and numerous firearms were discovered by police. Crown seeking jail and 10-year firearms prohibition. Accused retained criminal lawyer Wade Jenson, who advocated on his client’s behalf. Shortly before trial, ALL CHARGES DISMISSED.

4) R. v. N.

Following extensive surveillance and acting on an informant’s tip, police stopped the accused in possession of 17 kilos of cocaine, one of the largest drug seizures in Okanagan history and valued by police at upwards of $1,500,000.00. Lawyers referred the man charged to criminal drug lawyer Wade Jenson. Crown sought a minimum sentence of 6 years imprisonment in a federal penitentiary. Defence lawyer Wade Jenson, on the other hand, sought what had never been accomplished previously in a case of this magnitude in any court in Canada. Brushing aside claims it couldn’t be done, Wade Jenson achieved for his client a 2-year Conditional Sentence Order, allowing his client to live at home and maintain his employment in the Alberta oil industry. The sentence has recently been upheld by the B.C. Court of Appeal.