Defence lawyer questions prosecution of marijuana possession
Stratford defence attorney Nicholas Wansbutter is speaking out after one of his clients was charged with possession of .5 grams of marijuana.
It’s a case he feels is a waste of the court’s time.
“That makes it frustrating coming here - not infrequently - to deal with these sorts of cases that may not even be a crime. Most likely won't a crime within a year or two,” Wansbutter said in Listowel, where he was defending a 16-year-old male.
The newly-elected Liberal government campaigned on a promise to decriminalize marijuana. The timeline for that to happen is not clear.
In his pot possession cases, Wansbutter has been pushing for community service or even adjournment until a decision can be made on whether marijuana possession will continue to be illegal.
Wansbutter believes Canada's court system is making criminals out of people that won’t be considered criminals in the near future.
The impacts of a conviction on even .5 grams of marijuana possession has far-reaching consequences, he said.
“If one's trying to cross the border, it will show up on their criminal record - conviction for possession of a scheduled substance. But it won't specify it on the screen what the border guard is looking at.
"For all they know, it could have been cocaine or methamphetamine and you're at substantial risk of being denied entry to the United States,” Wansbutter said.
Prosecutors that CTV News spoke with say until the law is changed, they will continue to do their job and prosecute these kinds of charges.
MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie said marijuana isn't legal yet and it shouldn't be a decision that's rushed into.
“I would tell the federal government to slow down," he said. Murie would like to have detailed discussions about its legalization.
Wansbutter said he hopes the courts start airing on the side of common sense, when it comes to marijuana possession.
“We're still coming to court with trials and people facing charges with minimal amounts of marijuana and they're still being prosecuted. That’s a concern to me as a lawyer and as a taxpayer – just from the perspective of the resources being used.”