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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 2 - Policies and Practices In Canada

Chapter 15 - The Criminal Justice System


Conclusions of Chapter 15


      The cost of prosecuting drug offences in 2000-2001 was $57 million with approximately $5 million or roughly 10% of the total budget relating to prosecuting cannabis possession offences.

      In 1999, it is estimated Canadian criminal courts heard 34,000 drug cases that involved more than 400,000 court appearances.

      The Drug Treatment Court initiatives seem very encouraging, although comprehensive evaluations are needed to ensure these programs are effective.

      Disposition and sentencing data with respect to drug-related offences are incomplete and there is an urgent need to correct this situation.

      Correctional Service Canada spends an estimated $169 million annually to address illicit drugs through incarceration, substance abuse programs, treatment programs and security measures; expenditures on substance abuse programs are unreasonably low, given the number of inmates who have substance-abuse dependence problems.

      A criminal conviction can negatively affect a persons financial situation and his or her career opportunities, and restrict travel. In addition, it can be an important factor in future dealings with the criminal justice system.

      Provincial courts of appeal have so far maintained the constitutionality of cannabis prohibition. They have found that because there is some evidence of harm caused by marijuana use that is neither trivial nor insignificant, Parliament has a rational basis to act as it has done, and the marijuana prohibition is therefore consistent with the principles of fundamental justice in section 7 of the Charter. These decisions have been appealed, and the Supreme Court of Canada will soon decide whether cannabis prohibition is constitutionally sound.



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