Can you enter Canada with a drug-related offense on your record?

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Having been convicted or even simply arrested for a drug-related offense can render you inadmissible to enter Canada. Whether it be possession of marijuana for medical use or the trafficking of cocaine, Canadian laws are very strict when it comes to such crimes and allowing entry into Canada to individuals who have been convicted of such offenses in their past.

What are some common drug-related offenses that could stop me from entering Canada?

Some of the more common drug-related offenses include the following:

  • Possession (drug and/or paraphernalia)
  • Trafficking
  • Intent to use
  • Intent to distribute
  • Importing/exporting
  • Cultivation and production

The severity of the offense will depend on both the type of drug and the amount in question. Some of the more common types of illegal drugs include:

  • Marijuana
  • Hashish
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • LSD
  • Heroine

What are the penalties for drug-related offenses under Canadian criminal laws?

Under Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substance Act, the punishments for drug-related offenses can range from summary conviction for less serious offenses, such as possession of small amounts of marijuana, to imprisonment for life for an offense such as the exporting of cocaine, for example. Sections 4 – 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act outline which offenses will be punishable by indictment, summary conviction or the possibility of either (hybrid offense).

Generally speaking, a summary offense is, unless otherwise specified in another statute, one which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 CAD or a maximum of six months in jail, or both.

An indictable offense is one which exposes an individual to more a more serious penalty, which could include a substantial fine or even imprisonment, ranging from a few years to a possible life sentence, depending on the severity of the offense.

A hybrid offense is one which could be prosecuted by summary conviction or by indictment. Under Canadian immigration laws, when the corresponding Canadian equivalent is a hybrid offense, it will always be seen as an indictable offense for inadmissibility purposes.

What if marijuana use is legal in my state?

On November 8th, 2016, California, Massachusetts and Nevada, have voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. These three states joined Washington, the District of Columbia (DC), Alaska, Oregon and Colorado where the use of recreational marijuana has been legalized in years past. Furthermore, Florida, Montana, Arkansas and North Dakota have, on the same day, voted to legalize marijuana for medical use.

However, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Canada, and therefore, despite its legality in certain states, remains an offense under Canadian criminal laws. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana (under 30 grams), could result in a summary conviction and a criminal record. The trafficking of marijuana is a more serious crime and would constitute an indictable offense with imprisonment for up to 5 years.

How can I enter Canada if I have a drug-related offense on my record?

As previously discussed, although a drug-related offense would render you criminally inadmissible to enter Canada, there are options available to overcome inadmissibility, such as an application for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or Criminal Rehabilitation (CR), which could permit you entry into Canada despite your conviction.

Questions specific to your case?

Should you have any questions, we invite you to contact us by phone (1-844-326-8410) or by email at today. Contacting JTM Immigration means dealing directly with one of our lawyers, who can advise you on various solutions as part of a free initial consultation.