Court Ponders How Much Punishment Man Should Get for Having 21 Pounds of a Drug That May Soon be Legal

Article by Barb Pacholik, National Post

Seamus John Neary outside courthouse

Arguing a Saskatchewan judge fumbled when he used potential pot legalization to justify giving a break to a former university football player caught with 21 pounds of marijuana, the Crown wants jail.

“The new (pending) legislation does not mean all things marijuana are now legal,” federal prosecutor Wade McBride argued before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal on Thursday.

The lawyer representing Seamus John Neary not only defended his client’s sentence of probation, but took a second kick at a Charter of Rights argument. He contends a law prohibiting a conditional sentence for such a crime is cruel and unusual punishment — especially given the current government’s stance regarding pot.

“This drug is no longer as big a concern,” John Conroy contended.

Whether or not either side scored with their arguments is unknown. Justices Ralph Ottenbreit, Neal Caldwell and Peter Whitmore reserved decision.

The Crown launched its appeal after Neary received a suspended sentence with two years’ probation last June. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice R. Shawn Smith had said a jail term — the Crown had sought 15 to 18 months — was unnecessary for someone “who conducted himself well but for this single unfortunate foray in the mire of the drug world.” He listed at length Neary’s prior accomplishments as a volunteer at Regina social and youth programs, in academics and football at his Regina high school and later the University of Saskatchewan, and employment. Court heard the 26-year-old is currently attending a B.C. university.

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