A very important step to potentially eventually decriminalizing drug possession took place in August 2020 and perhaps it was prompted in part by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also may have been prompted in part by the long standing recognition that drug possession is really an addiction and health problem in Canadian society. Is drug possession really a criminal type issue? Are we criminalizing people who merely have a substance abuse problem? The Public Prosecutions Service of Canada is responsible for prosecuting drug crimes in Canada.

In August 2020, they gave a directive to all of the federal drug prosecutors in Canada to look at drug possession charges in the following way: drug prosecutors are to consider in their discretion, whether someone charged with possession of marihuana, cocaine, amphetamines, fentanyl, heroin etc. (i.e. any type of illegal drug) should be diverted out of the criminal justice system. In other words, the drug charges would be withdrawn in return for the accused doing something such as receiving counselling. This is a negotiable issue at this point and certainly for aggravating circumstances, where the person is found with drugs while in possession of a weapon or where they are using the drugs in possession in a car or driving in a car or using machinery etc., drug possession charges are not going to be diverted for these types of aggravating circumstances. However, in other situations, the directive allows federal drug prosecutors to exercise their discretion to withdraw charges. This allows your lawyer to potentially negotiate and plea bargain with the crown to completely avoid a criminal record.

This is a very positive development in my view and it’s very modern thinking which is long overdue in my respectful submission. And again, it really pays to hire a good criminal lawyer in this situation. You will be able to potentially get your case diverted out of the criminal system and avoid a criminal record. This is good news as you will then be able avoid the significant negative repercussion of a criminal record regarding future employment, travel and the stigma of having a criminal record for drug possession and other negative consequences in your life.

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