A representative of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition based in B.C. commented that London has a serious drug problem that is related to the economic downturn and associated job losses, stresses and mental health issues. Experts also link the increase in the use of this drug to a 2012 decision to remove the prescription painkiller OxyContin from the market. London, Windsor and the surrounding areas are particularly well known for high rates of addiction. The increase in the use of methamphetamine has created a market for dealers and manufacturers.
In 2015, London’s drug squad increasingly targeted methamphetamine possession and trafficking. In April of 2015, police searched nine residences in London and one in Waterloo, leading to the arrest of 12 people and a seizure of drugs, cash, cars and a gun. 60 drug charges and 31 Criminal Code charges were laid in connection with these arrests. Included in the seizures were 1.7 kilograms of methamphetamine and 1.4 kilograms of cocaine; the value of the drugs seized totaled about $500,000. Then in May, London police arrested another six people and laid 22 drug-related charges following raids on two residences where they seized almost 500 grams of crystal meth as well as cocaine and heroin valued at about $80,000.
In addition to the problem of addiction, crystal meth is cut with unknown chemicals which are themselves sometimes dangerous and fatal. Crystal meth use often leads to side effects such as infections and mental health conditions including psychosis.
Higher rates of homelessness has been cited as an associated factor in rising crystal meth use. This drug is cheap and is also a stimulant, which allows individuals to stay awake longer, which is an advantage if they are sleeping in potentially dangerous places.
Drug possession and drug trafficking are considered serious crimes in Canada and as such, have serious penalties. The most important Canadian law governing the use of illegal drugs is the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). Common offences under the Act include: trafficking, possession, cultivation, importing or exporting drugs and ‘prescription shopping’ (which involves obtaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors). Any drug conviction is a criminal offence and unless it is a very minor charge such as possession of marihuana for personal use, usually results in a criminal record. For anyone with a prior criminal record, there is often a mandatory minimum sentencing requirement.
In Canada, federal drug offences are divided into those tried by summary conviction (which typically involves lesser charges and penalties) and those tried by indictment. Penalties for possession and prescription shopping may be tried summarily or by indictment, depending on the amount of drugs in possession and whether the accused has a prior criminal record. In general, the punishments for possession and distribution of marijuana (cannabis) are less than those for crystal meth, cocaine and heroin. For the least serious offence, such as possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, a convicted person is liable to a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the first offence, and one year in jail and a $2000 fine for additional offences.
Possession of meth amphetamine, cocaine and heroin is an indictable offense under the CDSA and carries a maximum jail time of seven years imprisonment. Trafficking of these drugs carries a two year minimum sentence and a maximum of life imprisonment.
Although enforcement efforts are increasingly being directed at traffickers of hard drugs, the reality is that most people affected by Canada’s drug laws are people who are caught for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Over 600,000 Canadians now have criminal records for marijuana possession.
A criminal conviction for any drug charge, even for possession of a small amount of marijuana, can have significant negative consequences on a person’s life. A criminal conviction puts you at a disadvantage in any later criminal proceedings; travel is restricted with a criminal record; and you may experience difficulty finding future employment if you have a criminal record.
If you are charged with any drug related offence, contact the former drug prosecutors at Kruse Law to fight to have these charges dropped or reduced.