Defending Possession of Cocaine charges

As we move toward whatever model of marijuana legalization that the Trudeau government has promised to implement in the spring of 2017, we see a proliferation of medical cannabis retailers in BC, especially throughout Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland. It’s obvious to most people, whether out for a walk near a park, beach or “hipster” shopping street, that more and more British Columbians are indulging in smoking pot. Often the pungent aroma is inescapable; likewise, cannabis dispenaries, once confined to stealthy, low profile operations now boldly advertise thier wares, hoping to attreact an ever growing clientel. Since this summer in Vancouver some pot dispesaries no longer even requiring a doctor’s medical note to dispense marijuana: Since June of 2015, Vancouver city council instituted a system of issuing City business licences to pot dispenaries. During this period where pot is still prohibited under the Criminal Code, but clearly is tolerated by most Canadians, it certainly seems to criminal lawyers that police and prosecutors are loathe to prosecute people for simple possession of marijuana. At Mines and Company, it has, in fact, been years since we have had to represent a client charged with simple possession of pot.

While clearly our community now takes a very liberal view with respect to marijuana possession, the same cannot be said for possession of other drugs such as cocaine. In recent months, we have actually seen a huge increase in the number of cocaine possession charges. One particular hot spot for enforcement that we’ve seen a big focus on is the Resort Municipality of Whistler. As seen by this 2002 article, cocaine use has been an issue in Whistler for quite some time:  Whether because of a perception relaxed enforcement of marijuana possession laws or other factors, our practice has seen a marked increase in the number of Whistler clients coming to us with cocaine possession charges. These cases often involve people leaving Whistler bars, pubs or restaurants to go to a parking lot or some other relatively open place an openly consume the drug. Police are so familiar with this happening that they simply put a couple of undercover officers on foot patrol in and around these open places to detain and arrest the users.

For the most part, those charges with simple possession of cocaine are young people, often seasonal resort workers, who have no criminal record. They are hugely surprised to see that the RCMP and the Whistler community do not see cocaine in the same light as alcohol or enen cannabis. Police recommend charges and Crown Counsel routinely prosecutes cocaine charges. Our challenge is to help those charged try to avoid criminal records that would severely impact their lives with respect to opportunities for travel and employment. We have, in fact, been quite successful in achievinf absolute discharges for most of our clients charged with simple possession of cocaine: Should you find yourself charged, give us a call.