Youth Drug Cases Up

Youth Drug Cases Up
Posted by CN Staff on June 22, 2003 at 17:48:15 PT
By Shane Holladay, Edmonton Sun
Source: Edmonton Sun
The number of kids in Canadian courts on drug charges has tripled in the last decade despite a drop in nearly every other form of youth crime, says Statistics Canada. More often than not, it's small amounts of pot that put a kid in Alberta before a judge on drug charges, said lawyer Neena Ahluwalia of the Youth Criminal Defence Office, a government-funded legal aid agency for minors. 
"The vast majority of drugs we see are marijuana," Ahluwalia said. "Of course, they're not going to have large quantities of drugs, especially if we're talking marijuana, because it's so easy to get." If a kid isn't in court for a small amount of pot, he's usually facing charges for possessing a somewhat larger quantity of cocaine or meth, she said. Organized crime could be a factor in the sharp increase in these types of cases, said Ahluwalia. After all, a summer job running drugs is far more lucrative and attractive than one in the fast food industry, she said. "It's easy money, the lure is there. You either get a job at Mickey D's, or make a lot more doing this," she said. Ahluwalia said she usually see kids getting involved in the drug trade at around the age of 16 or 17. According to StatsCan numbers released Friday, youth courts in Canada heard 85,640 cases during the 2001 to 2002 fiscal year, down 16% overall from 1992 to A 41% decline in property crime was responsible for the overall drop, said the federal agency. However, the survey found that the number of drug-related youth cases rose from 1,924 to 6,058 in the last 10 years, with two-thirds of those cases identified as possession of drugs. Young Offenders Act offences were also up, by 33%. Alberta courts reported 366 possession cases and 213 trafficking cases through 2001, said StatsCan. Two possible reasons for this jump in drug-related court appearances leap to mind, said University of Alberta criminal law professor Sanjeev Anand. "In all likelihood, these crimes can be attributed to organized crime, and (kids are) being used as low-risk couriers," he said. They make attractive drug couriers because they face less severe penalties if caught by police, he added. Anand said his guess is that most of the drug cases are for simple possession. "Police are not using their discretion and they're simply charging young people when the opportunity arises. "If that's the case, decriminalization should stem the tide." The bill to decriminalize marijuana was introduced in May. Under the proposed new law, youths caught with less than 15 grams of marijuana could be fined up to $250.9  Note: Court numbers triple in last decade.Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB) Author:  Shane Holladay, Edmonton SunPublished: Sunday, June 22, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Canoe Limited PartnershipContact: letters edm.sunpub.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Repackaged Pot Status Quo Growers No Worse Than Martini Drinkers Decriminalization That Wasn't
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