The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act imposed a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for possession for the purpose of trafficking in circumstances where the accused had been convicted of a trafficking-related offence in the previous ten years.
The Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the ability of Provincial Court Judges to invalidate mandatory minimum sentences based on “reasonable hypothetical,” as discussed in R. v. Nur. Although “a professional drug dealer who engages in the business of dangerous drugs for profit, who is in possession of a large amount of drugs, and who has been convicted many times for similar offences” might rightly be sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment, the same sentence might be cruel and unusual for “the addict who is charged for sharing a small amount of drugs with a friend or spouse, and finds herself sentenced to a year in prison because of a single conviction for sharing marihuana in a social occasion nine years before.”
In the case at bar, the Supreme Court overturned an increase in sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal, noting that “if Parliament hopes to sustain mandatory minimum penalties for offences that cast a wide net, it should consider narrowing their reach so that they only catch offenders that merit the mandatory minimum sentences.”
Decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on April 15, 2016.
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