By Dana Larsen
Canada’s justice system is in the midst of a major crisis. Many hundreds of important cases across Canada have been dropped due to a lack of court resources. These include some very serious crimes.
In Ontario, 6,500 cases in provincial court could soon be dropped due to delays, including 38 for homicide or attempted murder. In one terrible case last year, a man named Kenneth Williamson was convicted of raping a minor over 100 times, but because of lengthy delays in taking his case to trial, his conviction was overturned.
Late last year, two men had charges of first degree murder dropped because of long delays in getting to trial. In unrelated cases, alleged killers Lance Regan and Adam Picard both walked free from murder charges. Regan was accused of murdering a fellow inmate, while Picard was accused of shooting a man to death during a robbery.
Considering this justice system crisis, cannabis should obviously be the lowest priority for police and the courts, but it’s not. Not only are police launching more raids against dispensaries than ever before, but ridiculous charges for small-scale “cannabis crimes” are continuing from coast to coast.
In Alberta alone, over 200 serious criminal charges have been dropped this year due to clogged courts. Yet I’ve got a two-day hearing in Calgary May 9 and 10, over giving away low-THC cannabis seeds! My trial will begin next year. Seeds for high-potency cannabis plants are openly sold in every Canadian city, including over a dozen outlets in Calgary, but prosecutors are willing to waste precious court resources on me for a free seed giveaway? How absurd.
The recent raids on Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton are the result of a lengthy investigation, and have taken months of police work to pursue. Hundreds of hours of precious court time will now be spent on processing and hearing these charges over the coming months and years, along with charges from many dozens of other pointless dispensary cases in other cities.
Every single one of these cannabis raids is an assault on our justice system. Every dollar spent charging, processing and trying people for cannabis is a dollar taken away from the enforcement of serious laws against violent criminals.
Back in 2013, the National Post was reporting on the clogged-courts problem, noting that “the recent introduction of mandatory minimum sentences” was also a big part of the problem, as they delay trials and “give greater incentive for charges to be more vigorously and aggressively fought.” Yet Trudeau hasn’t done anything to get rid of Harper’s vicious mandatory minimums, even though his party voted against them when Harper was passing the legislation. What’s he waiting for?
Meanwhile Bill Blair, Trudeau’s spokesperson on cannabis, is telling us that the biggest impact of legalization will be that “we’re going to have to ask more of the police.” How can this be? Under what rational form of legalization will we need even more police to arrest more people? If cannabis legalization doesn’t mean a massive reduction in police time spent on cannabis, then it’s not really legal at all.
Alleged killers are walking away without trial while dispensary raids are accelerating and minor cannabis cases are getting high priority. Now Trudeau’s spokesperson is saying we’ll need more cops after legalization than ever before! This is not what Canadians voted for, and after having had a year in office to fix these problems, Justin Trudeau should be ashamed of himself.
Dana Larsen is the in The Huffington PostThis post originally appeared