In accordance with the CDSA, it is a criminal offence to import or export drugs listed in Schedule I, II, III, IV, V, or VI into or from Canada. It is similarly an offence to possess any of these drugs for the purposes of importing or exporting them. In order for the Crown Prosecutor to prove that you are guilty of this offence, they must prove that you had knowledge, consent and control over the drug.
The element of possession can be established even when you do not have the drugs on your person or property, but knowledge and control of the drugs in their actual location. So if you have stored a large amount of marijuana in a storage locker, and have the capacity to decide whether they are moved in and out of that locker, you will be in possession of those drugs. The knowledge component of this offence can also be made out if the Crown can prove that you were willfully blind to the fact that you were in possession of drugs that were destined to be imported or exported from Canada. For example, if you had reason to strongly suspect your friend put drugs in your luggage while travelling, but you did not check prior to passing through baggage claim so you wouldn’t ‘know’ you had the drugs, you would be willfully blind for the purposes of this offence.
With respect to the importing element of the charge, you will be guilty of drug importing once you bring, or send the drugs out of the country. If you are importing them, you do not need to take physical possession of the drugs to be guilty of this offence. The second the drugs cross the border, the offence is complete.
The Penalty for Drug Importing in Canada
If you are found guilty of importing or exporting a Schedule I or a Schedule II drug, you are guilty of an indictable offence and can be liable to a sentence of life in prison. If you are found guilty of importing or exporting a Schedule III or VI drug, you can be guilty of an indictable offence and may be liable for a sentence of 10 years in prison. If the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, you can be liable for a sentence in prison of up to 18 months. If you are found guilty of importing or exporting a Schedule IV or V drug, you may be found guilty of an indictable offence and a sentence of up to 3 years in prison. If the Crown proceeds summarily, you can be liable of a term in prison of up to one year.