DRUG USER VS. DRUG DEALER

A 39 year-old heroin addict with AIDS, surnamed Pai, smokes heroinWhen a person is charged with a drug crime, the police need to decide if they should lay the charge of simple possession or possession of the purpose of trafficking that drug. Drug offences are governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Specifically, section 4(1) deals with simple possession also known as personal possession. Section 4(1) reads as follows: Except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III. Section 5(2) speaks to possessing more narcotic constant with trafficking. Section 5(2) reads as follows: No person shall, for the purpose of trafficking, possess a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV.

There are factors that will be taken into consideration when the police are using their discretion in deciding how to charge an accused. The weight of the drug is typically the first thing that the police consider. A pound of marihuana will lead to a possession for the purpose of trafficking arrest whereas two grams of marihuana will lead to a simple possession charge. The police will look for paraphernalia typically used for drug consumption such as a pipe. Users are known to carry paraphernalia so they can use the drugs that they have purchased. This is in contrast to a drug dealer who don’t always use the product that they are illegally selling. Another indicator of a drug dealer is the way that the drugs are packaged. A user may purchase a small amount of narcotic in a small bag or piece of tin foil but will likely only have one or two packages of narcotics with them at any given time. This is usually because drugs are expensive to purchase. A drug dealer on the other hand may have many small bags of drugs with them so they are ready for sale. Other factors that the police look for are drug money or proceeds of crime. A user of street drugs is unlikely to walk around with hundreds of dollars versus a drug dealer who could have lots of cash on his or her person.

The decision except in obvious situations can be confusing when the quantity of drugs is higher than usual but smaller than ounces of drugs. The decision can also be confusing for the police when the accused only has a “normal” amount of funds on their person like fourty or sixty dollars. Finally, some drug users are also low level drug dealers that may only sell occasionally or in very small quantities to support their own drug habit. Each case is specific to its own facts and circumstances. An individual charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking could face a lengthy jail term even if they have no prior criminal record. Special drug diversion programs and treatment courts are set up and available for users in many cities across Ontario and Canada. These programs are not available to non-user drug dealers. Therefore, if you are charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, you should consult senior and experienced counsel who can evaluate your arrest, charges and your specific Circumstance. The internet is the best place to find expert lawyers near you. Do not forget to include the name of your place while doing the search. Make use of the following phrase ‘Hamilton Criminal Lawyer’ to get localized results.