Drugs and Police Powers

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)

The primary piece of legislation Canada uses to regulate drugs is the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). (Canada.ca, 2017). Under Canada's CDSA, drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, heroin, and amphetamines are classified as illicit. (Canada.ca, 2017). Although a bill to legalize cannabis for recreational use has been created, the law has not yet been passed. Consequently, the substance is still prohibited. (Law.gov, 2016). The CDSA makes it illegal to produce, acquire, export, or import substances that are on the schedule. The nation enacted the Act in 1996 to repeal the FDA's Food and Drug Act (FDA) and some of the country's drug control laws. (Canada.ca, 2017). It then established 8 schedules of controlled substances and 2 clauses of precursors.

Section 11 (5) of Canada's CDSA and Police Powers

Section 11 (5) of Canada's CDSA authorizes the police in the country to do a number of things. According to Canada.ca (2017), the Act allows a peace officer conducting a warrant to search with reasonable grounds, anyone who owns or found in place with controlled substances. That is, the officer should search the suspected place or person only if h/she has reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect has controlled substance, property, or any other thing set out in the warrant. For example, a police might find a person in a house or a car with illegal drugs. The officer should not conclude that the person is associated with the drug and search him/her without any logical believe to link to individual with the drug or substance.

Evidence and Establishment of Logical Grounds

The law implies that the security officer should first establish logical grounds to believe that the subject found in the place of the controlled drug is associated with production, distribution, sale, or use of the drug. An individual caught in a place of the illegal drug might not be associated with the drug (Desroches, 2005). Therefore, the police should prove beyond reasonable doubt that the suspect might be linked to the drug before implementing the search warrant.


Canada.ca. (2017). Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (S.C. 1996, c. 19). Retrieved from http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/FullText.html

Desroches, F. J. (2005). The crime that pays: Drug trafficking and organized crime in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.

Law.gov. (2016). Decriminalization of narcotics: Canada. Retrieved from https://www.loc.gov/law/help/decriminalization-of-narcotics/canada.php

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