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Viewing entries tagged with 'drug offences'
Drug legality in Calgary can be confusing. A dedicated defence lawyer puts the record straight.
With marijuana legalization in process and a shifting public and government perspective on recreational drug use, many Calgary citizens might be under the impression that drug offences are no longer a big deal. Drug possession is a crime many commit during their college years and even later in life, and we know that upstanding and productive members of our community may use illegal drugs in a wholly responsible manner. This leads to the impression that the Calgary Police and our local Crown prosecutors don't really care much about drug offences, and that drug charges aren't something you need to worry about.
For decades, drugs in Calgary were dealt with purely as a criminal justice issues. Drugs are against the law, therefore anyone using them is a criminal, plain and simple. That's how the Calgary Police, the Crown prosecutors, and society at large saw things.
In Part 1 of this article, I pointed out how Calgary's drug laws are failing our community. Far from limiting violence and drug use and making our city safer, the criminalization of drugs actually creates numerous public safety problems for Calgary. Not only do laws prohibiting the use of recreational drugs create a serious question about our civil liberties, but making the trade of drugs illegal encourages other illegal acts to be committed while the trade continues.
Drug-related crimes make up a significant portion of arrests made by the Calgary Police Service and other law enforcement agencies in the Greater Calgary Area. Investigations and "sting" operations conducted by the police have led to the arrest of many Calgary citizens accused of nothing more than the possession of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and other substances.
In Part 1 of this article, you learned that despite the stigma created by the Calgary media and some members of the Calgary Police when it comes to drugs and drug use, everyone accused of a drug-related crime in Calgary has certain rights. Many of these rights, such as the right to be presumed innocent unless and until you are proven guilty in a Calgary court, are explicitly established by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If you believe what you see in the Calgary media—and what you hear from the Calgary Police—drug-related offences are the cause of much of Calgary's crime. Not only that, but a rather sketchy connection has been drawn by these sources between drug-related offences and violent crimes in Calgary, including shootings and other gun crimes.
The news about Calgary's "gangs" seems never-ending. Every week sees more headlines about the violence gangs are visiting upon our city, the danger that gangs present to normal Calgary citizens, and all manner of other reasons we should be scared of these "different" and "outside" forces that have somehow infiltrated Calgary society.
Even as our society, our government, and our medical community work towards a more liberal view of recreational drugs and a better understanding of addiction as a health problem, Calgary continues to see a large number of arrests and charges every year for drug-related crimes, including simple drug possession. Many of those arrested may suffer from drug dependency issues, and both they and their community would be far better served by medical and social support than by jail time.
W-18 and 3-MF are two of the drugs that resulted in the March overdose of a 35-year-old man from Calgary. These drugs are dangerous on their own, and when used in combination with heroin, as they were in this case, create a potent mixture that can result in serious health problems, addiction, and even death after just a single dose.
Prime Minister Trudeau's announcement that he will see the recreational use of marijuana throughout Canada as early as 2017 was met with a great deal of of uproar by proponents and opponents alike.
The drug laws throughout Canada and in Calgary specifically are in the process of changing, though not fast as enough according to some—the medical community and much of the legal community (including more than a few Calgary defence lawyers) have been trying for decades to get the government to start addressing drug use as a public health issues rather than a criminal justice issue.
Despite many headlines and an ever growing problem—according to some—of opiate and opioid addiction, you may not be aware that Calgary is suffering from a health problem that unfortunately (and unnecessarily) overlaps with a law enforcement issue.
A recent headline proclaimed a big step forward in the Calgary Police's battle against recreational fentanyl in the Greater Calgary Area. According to CTV News, police have identified a "drug ring" in Calgary that received illegally manufactured fentanyl from a producer in British Columbia, and they expect this to help them reduce the amount of fentanyl available in our city.
Arrests and charges for simple drugs possession continue to keep law enforcement and courts busy throughout Canada, including in the Greater Calgary Area. Calgary Police make many arrests for drug-related charges, and hardly a week goes by without a news item relating to a drug bust or other law enforcement activity aimed at getting drugs off Calgary's streets.
Drug offences are unfortunately common in Calgary; though the scientific and medical communities are leaning more and more towards treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal justice problem, law enforcement—and the laws they enforce—have been slow to catch up. That's why we still see arrests and prosecutions for simple drug possession every day in Calgary.
Though drug abuse is becoming increasingly seen as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, drug offences remain among the most common type of criminal charge laid against Calgary citizens and tried in the Calgary courts. From marijuana charges to the recent spate of fentanyl arrests to charges related to the possession and/or trafficking of cocaine, methamphetamines, and more drugs are still a big part of the Calgary criminal justice system.
Coming right on the tail of last year's rising problem with fentanyl, Calgary is facing a new drug that police say is even more dangerous, and is just as illegal to possess.
Alleged drug offences remain among the most common reasons for criminal charges brought before the Calgary courts, even while attitudes towards drug use (especially marijuana) are undergoing a major shift. Around half of the drug-related charges laid against Calgary citizens every year are for simple possession, and impaired driving charges also make up a sizable proportion of alleged drug-related offences.
Pharmaceutical drugs are one of the most important innovations of modern mankind, having saved countless lives and improved the quality of life for many more.
Drug use has long been a complex legal, social, medical/public health problem, not just in Calgary but throughout the world. Every culture has dealt with intoxicating substances, including alcohol and other primarily plant-based psychoactives, in one way or another; some consider certain intoxicants holy and revered them for their potent perspective-changing abilities, while other shunned any mind-altering as a deviation from the natural laws that govern humanity.
Drug offences remain some of the most common in the City of Calgary and throughout the Greater Calgary Area. Though these criminal drug charges include more serious offences such as drug manufacturing and drug trafficking, the majority of drug charges brought before the Calgary courts are for drug possession. People who use drugs recreationally or due to a chemical dependency/substance addiction are putting themselves at risk of a legal entanglement and a potential criminal record.
Laws banning or controlling access to certain substances have always been controversial.
At one extreme are those who believe that personal liberty should be inviolate—that we should have complete freedom to do what we want with our own bodies, including the ingestion of drugs.
More and more, drug addiction and drug use in Calgary and elsewhere in the world is being dealt with as a public health issue rather than a criminal problem. Yet the possession of many intoxicating substances can still result in criminal charges.
Canada's new federal regulations involving medical marijuana have gone into effect, and Calgary was among the first Canadian cities to start putting these new regulations into action. It is now possible to obtain a medical authorization for the possession and use of marijuana, and also to become an approved and licenced producer of marijuana for medical use. For those suffering from chronic illnesses that marijuana has proven to be effective in helping to treat, this is a major step forward in gaining easy access to important medication.
When most people in Calgary think of "drugs," they think of substances that are flat-out illegal to use and possess, the the possible exemption of certain researchers and research facilities. Cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin and other opiates, and of course marijuana—now approved for medical use with questionable legality, and causing controversy right here in Calgary—these are the drugs people think of in regard to the criminal justice system.
The Edmonton Police Service has noted an increase in drug-related crimes as the price of oil has been dropping. This is a complex issue that affects not only our neighbours to the north in Edmonton, but those of us here in the Greater Calgary Area as well.
Over 60,000 new residents migrated to the Edmonton area in the past two years of the oil boom. According to an EPS report, this led to an increased demand for drugs in the area, and higher rates of drug crimes were witnessed.
Charges for the simple possession of controlled substances—drugs—remain among some of the most common criminal charges brought against Calgary citizens. The possession of marijuana, cocaine, pharmaceuticals without a proper prescription, and other substances on the various schedules of controlled substances can lead to both summary conviction offences and indictable offences, depending on the amounts involved and other circumstances, and both types of offences can mean a major disruption to your life.
Whether it's in your house, in your pocket, or even in a friend's backpack that was left in your car, if there are drugs or other controlled substances in what the Calgary Police consider your possession, you can be charged with a criminal drug offence. Drug charges remain among the most common criminal offences brought before the Calgary courts, and are an even more common cause for arrests by the Calgary Police.
The Chasing Summer music festival, which bills itself as the largest electronic music festival in Western Canada, is causing controversy due to the drug use that occurs there. Some city officials are questioning whether or not this festival should be allowed to return to Calgary in future years.
Drug offences remain a common cause for arrests in Calgary; often these arrests are for simple possession of a controlled substance such as cocaine or marijuana, however more serious charges for drug trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking are also laid against Calgary citizens all too frequently. Though drug use is increasingly seen and dealt with as a public health issue, it is still criminalized, and the sale or distribution of controlled substances is still taken very seriously by law enforcement.
Following tips from neighbors and a two-week investigation, Calgary Police raided a home on Taralake Way in late July. Drugs, cash, and weapons were seized as a result of the raid, and charges were brought against two residents who were home at the time of the raid.
Although Alberta's laws, lawmakers, and law enforcement agencies are beginning to treat some drug offences as public health issues rather than as criminal offences like any other, there are still many arrests made in the Calgary area each day on the basis of simple drug possession. If you have any controlled substance on your person or in your property—including your home or car—and you don't have the legal authorization to possess that substance (such as a prescription in the case of many opioids and narcotics), you are at risk of being arrested and charged with a drug offence.
A spate of recent shootings in northeast Calgary can be linked to groups involved in feuds over the drug trade, according to Calgary Police.
Gang violence had largely died down following the introduction of certain widespread social programs engaged in by the Calgary Police, which both steered at-risk youths away from gangs and helped enable investigations that led to several high-profile arrests of gang leaders.
Most people in Calgary probably think they have a pretty good idea of what the drug laws in and around the city say. Many probably think they are safe if they simply do not use "illegal drugs" like marijuana or cocaine. While it is true that avoiding the use of illicit substances will make it far less likely that you will be charged with a drug-related offence, it isn't a guarantee. In fact, it's possible for you to face a drug charge in the Calgary courts for possessing a substance you thought was legal.
Ask any member of the Calgary Police Services, any Crown prosecutor, and any Calgary-area criminal defence lawyer and they'll tell you: drug offences are still very common in and around the city, and they can cause a serious disruption to your life. This is true for all types of drug-related offences, from simple possession of a controlled substance that might result in a fine and/or a brief jail sentence, to charges of drug trafficking that can carry much longer prison sentences and other penalties upon conviction.
Calgary Police and Crown prosecutors might soon see a rise in drug offences involving the illegal possession or abuse of certain prescription drugs, but not because offences are necessarily occurring at a higher rate.
The regulators in control of Alberta's system for monitoring prescription drugs are expanding the province's triplicate prescription program, which is used by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to track certain prescriptions and identify instances of abuse.
Many of the informative articles published on this site have provided information on drug offences in Calgary—on the laws that criminalize the possession of certain substances, on the public health perspective that has led to changes in the way law enforcement and the Calgary courts pursue many charges for simple drug possession, and on the ways a criminal defence lawyer can help those in Calgary accused of even minor drug charges move on with their lives with minimal disruption and worry.
One of the big problems in cases of drug-related offences is that the accused is generally misinformed about controlled substances and the laws that apply to them. Of particular concern is the legislation surrounding marijuana. Though this substance has become popular as a recreational drug and less taboo in recent years, and the laws controlling it are not as strict as those governing harder drugs, many people in Calgary are surprised to find that the possession of marijuana can still result in criminal charges.
After receiving numerous complaints from neighbours, a home in Markerville was raided by more than 100 officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, resulting in the peaceful arrest of four individuals.
Though safety concerns were cited as a justification for the large-scale endeavor, no shots were fired nor was any other violence or resistance experienced during what turned out to be a relatively low-level drug bust.
Drug offences remain a common cause of arrest in Calgary, and the resulting defence cases can place a strain on the city's criminal justice system. For some people accused of drug offences in Calgary, Drug Treatment Court can provide an alternative to a traditional defence case, ensuring people get the help they need rather than a criminal sentence that can only impede their future.
Part of the philosophy behind Calgary's Drug Treatment Court is that drug offences, especially when committed by repeated offenders, are more of a public health issue than they are a problem of more general criminality. This does not mean, however, that drug cases going through the Drug Treatment Court are not handled as legal matters, or that participants in the program avoid all potential for charges and a criminal record.
If you've been arrested for or charged with a drug offence in Calgary, your best chance at putting the charge behind you quickly and completely is partnering with an experienced criminal defence lawyer.
Just as Calgary Police, other law enforcement officers, and Crown prosecutors have extensive experience in gathering evidence and presenting cases to obtain convictions, defence lawyers have understanding and experience with the related laws and criminal justice procedures that can help mitigate punishments and in many cases settle cases without a criminal conviction. An experienced criminal defence lawyer may be able to mitigate the outcome of your drug offence case; though you are not required to partner with a lawyer, it can frequently lead to a better outcome and a less stressful ordeal.
Drunk driving remains a common cause of cases making their way through the Calgary courts, but not all DUI cases begin with alcohol consumption. Detection and evidence gathering by the Calgary Police can be more complex endeavors for impaired driving cases involving substances other than alcohol, but DUI cases involving other drugs are still vigorously prosecuted.
Drug-related DUI charges can also lead to just as much trouble as drunk driving offences, and arguably even more so in some cases. Make sure you know the legal risks involved whenever you get behind the wheel of your car with a controlled substance in your system, or you might find yourself at the mercy of Calgary Police and Alberta's impaired driving laws.
Arrests in the Calgary area for alleged drug offences have been in a continuing decline, according to the most recent statistics available from the Calgary Police Service, but they still make up nearly three percent of the arrests made in the City of Calgary. This includes arrests for simple drug possession as well as for trafficking and other more serious offences.
Drug offences [investigated by law enforcement] (http://www.calgary.ca/cps/Documents/statistical-reports/2013-annual-statistical-report.pdf) in Calgary and the surrounding area have been falling gradually for the past five years, however there were still over 1,000 cases involving simple drug possession in 2013 within Calgary's city limits. The number of more serious drug-related offences, including trafficking and "cultivation" (which includes growing plants like marijuana as well as manufacturing other drugs), has dropped more rapidly, yet though they occur more infrequently these offences can lead to much harsher consequences for the accused.
The passage of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in 1996 marked a major shift in the way Canada views and handles drug offences and substance-related crimes. Though the possession of many drugs and controlled substances is still a criminal offence that can result in both fines and jail time, the Act takes various factors into account in its determination of sentencing limits and is part of a shift towards viewing drug offences as public health concerns.
Criminal defence cases against many drug-related offences or accusations is different from other criminal cases in the Calgary courts, and is viewed differently by the Canadian criminal justice system at large. Understanding the difference might help you rest a little easier if you're facing a drug related charge, and for that we need to take a quick look at the recent history of drug laws in Canada.
In an article posted last week, the basics of Canadian criminal law regarding drug offences were described. As that article detailed, criminal offences involving different types of drugs or controlled substances carry different potential sentences even for the simple crime of possession—some drugs come with higher sentencing thresholds than others.
Maximum allowable punishments for drug offences under Canadian law are determined by which "schedule" a drug or controlled substance is listed on; these schedules were themselves established by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and continue to be reviewed and adjusted periodically. Understanding the basic drug schedule system and the substances that appear on each schedule can help you understand your criminal defence case if you've been charged with a drug offence.
Drug offences, actual and alleged, are an all too common cause for arrests, detentions, and charges brought before Calgary judges. Persons accused of drug offences in Calgary don't have to face the criminal justice system alone, however; not only do all people in Canada accused of any criminal defence have the right to consult with a criminal defence lawyer, they also have the right to know the laws they are accused of breaking and to seek a fair hearing and a just outcome.