The Drug Laws in Edmonton that You Didn't Know Exist

Drug laws in Alberta are complex, and the severity of sentencing can depend on many extenuating factors. If you have been charged with a drug offence you should exercise your right to seek help from a drug defence lawyer in Edmonton immediately.

Drug laws in Alberta are complex, and the severity of sentencing can depend on many extenuating factors. If you have been charged with a drug offence you should exercise your right to seek help from a drug defence lawyer in Edmonton immediately.

Prescription Drugs Law


Prescription drugs are governed by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and are only legal when prescribed by a doctor. It is illegal to possess prescription drugs without a valid prescription in Edmonton or to get multiple prescriptions filled by different pharmacies. Lying about your identity, using a forged prescription, or getting multiple prescriptions by various doctors is illegal. Selling or giving away your prescription drugs is also a criminal offence.


An example of a criminal case involving prescription drugs is that of R v Habib, 2016 ABCA 190 2016 ABCA 190, where the defendant, Sammy Habib, represented himself in his appeal. He attempted to reverse convictions of 21 counts of double doctoring and of one count of possession of Oxycodone for the purposes of trafficking. In 2008 Mr. Habib was shot in his lower leg and he was prescribed painkillers, including Oxycodone, while he was in the hospital. Over a 16-month period, in Alberta and British Columbia, Mr. Habib obtained over 39,000 pills, equal to 73,716 milligrams of narcotics which had a street value estimated to be $1,425,756. The Justices of the Court of Appeal ruled that, based on the evidence presented, Mr. Habib’s conviction on the charge of possession for the purposes of trafficking was not unreasonable.


Medical Marijuana Law


Medical marijuana is legal in Canada for patients who have a qualifying medical condition and a prescription from a licensed doctor, provided the marijuana was purchased from a licensed dispensary. If you cannot produce the original packaging from the supplier, your dispensary membership is considered insufficient evidence that your purchase was legal. In this situation, marijuana for medicinal purposes will be treated the same as possession of recreational marijuana, which is currently illegal.


Getting Arrested With or Without a Warrant


Most people are aware that you can be arrested for drug possession with a warrant; however there are circumstances where you can be arrested without a warrant, which is if you are committing a criminal offence. An arrest can be made if the officer has “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that you have or about to commit an offence. If you are arrested without a warrant the officer must give the reasons for the arrest and inform you of your right to legal counsel. The officer in charge must also inform you of your option to contact a lawyer. You have a right to Duty Counsel or you can request toll free numbers for criminal defence lawyers in Edmonton and you can apply to Legal Aid Alberta.


Using Addiction as a Defence


If you are accused of a drug offence and you are a regular user of drugs, there may be evidence that the drug possession is consistent with personal use as opposed to drug trafficking. The amounts required to maintain an addiction and personal habits are relevant. In criminal court, the prosecution and defence are both permitted to lead evidence concerning your typical use. However, this usually requires a report from of medical expert. An experienced criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton can refer you to a physician who can provide a medical expert report.

In R. v. Russell, 2016 ABPC 274, Justice Anderson was aware that the defendant, Mr. Russell, was a 52-year-old addict with a long history of substance abuse. Justice Anderson stated “if Mr. Russell were seeking a rehabilitative sentence or came before the Court showing a desire and reasonable prospects of overcoming his addiction, I would consider a non-custodial sentence with conditions aimed at promoting recovery.” Mr. Russell did not ask for that, however. Instead his appeal was based on an abuse of process as he was charged during an undercover police operation. His appeal was not successful.

Legal Aid in Alberta


Legal Aid Alberta offers coverage to hire a lawyer for many legal issues, but not everyone qualifies.

All youths (12 to 18 years) are eligible to receive representation by a lawyer for criminal matters through Legal Aid Alberta, as mandated under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

For adult representations, Legal Aid Alberta will consider the required services and financial eligibility to determine if you qualify. Income includes, but is not limited to, employment earnings, lottery winnings, child and spousal support, money received by family members, insurance settlements or proceeds from the sale of an asset. Some expenses are deducted when calculating net income such as child or spousal support or day care fees. There are also limits on the assets you can have when considering eligibility for services.

Legal Aid Alberta may provide representation in the areas of criminal law that include indictable offences, whether in the Criminal Code or any other Federal Act; summary conviction offences with a likelihood of imprisonment upon conviction or the likelihood of loss of your means of earning a living wage upon conviction. Representational services are not free. You will be advised of repayment options if you qualify for legal aid and a lawyer is appointed.

Legal Aid Alberta uses a number of criteria when selecting a lawyer to represent you, including the severity of the charge and the court location. Legal Aid Alberta appoints lawyers from the private bar and the Criminal Resolution Office.

Contact Haryett and Company, Drug Lawyers in Edmonton


If you have been charged with a drug offence in Edmonton, many criminal law firms in Edmonton can represent you. At Haryett and Company, our strong criminal defence lawyers, experienced in defending drug offence cases, can assist you. We have multiple lawyers who could serve you. Contact us for your free initial consultation at 780-940-2808.
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