Youth Protections Will Change Courtroom Approach to Pot Charges After Legalization: Saskatoon Lawyer

Article by Alicia Bridges, CBC News

Youth protections will change courtroom approach to pot charges after legalization: Saskatoon lawyer 'It certainly will require you to screen this a little more carefully,' says defence lawyer Ron Piché

Harsher penalties for pot dealers who sell to young people will change the way marijuana charges are defended and prosecuted in the courts, according to Saskatoon lawyer Ron Piché.

The Cannabis Act, part of the federal government’s plan to legalize pot by July 1, 2018, imposes tough new penalties of up to 14 years in prison for giving or selling marijuana to minors.

A new offence with a penalty of up to 14 years in prison will also be created for using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence.

Piché — currently representing nearly 40 clients facing marijuana-related charges — said the target market for pot sales is not typically a factor in trafficking cases now.

That will change if the legislation known as Bill C-45 is passed, he said.

“[As a defence lawyer] you are going to be more vigilant to the fact that there may be younger people involved in the alleged trafficking,” said Piché.

“It certainly will require you to screen this a little more carefully.”

Most pot cases now don’t make it to court

Piché said most pot charges for smaller amounts are currently dropped before they make it to court.

“The federal government and the federal Crown office that prosecutes the run-of-the-mill marijuana charge, not often do they see the light of day,” he said.

“They’re either mediated or disposed of in other ways.”

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