Supreme Court of Canada to hear challenge to mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users

Vancouver, B.C. [April 30]—The Supreme Court of Canada announced today that it will hear an appeal of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offences in the case of R v. Lloyd.

Joseph Lloyd, a Vancouver Downtown Eastside resident, was charged and convicted with possession for the purpose of trafficking after he was arrested by police for carrying just less than 10 grams of heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal methamphetamine. In his sentencing hearing, Mr. Lloyd told the court he was addicted to all three of these drugs.
Under the Safe Streets and Communities Act enacted in 2012, Mr. Lloyd’s conviction carries a one-year mandatory minimum jail term. Provincial Court found the mandatory minimum sentence in this case could amount to cruel and unusual punishment and declined to impose the mandatory jail term. However, the decision was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal, which increased his sentence. The Supreme Court of Canada will now determine if the sentence violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We are thrilled with the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Mr. Lloyd’s appeal," says Adrienne Smith, health and drug policy lawyer with Pivot Legal Society. "Mandatory minimum sentences unfairly target vulnerable Canadians and fail to consider the conditions of individual’s lives and their communities. The Court will now hear how these sentences can violate individual Charter rights."
Pivot Legal Society intervened with BC Civil Liberties Association at the BC Court of Appeal hearing, arguing that mandatory minimum sentences for possession for the purpose of trafficking have a disproportionate effect on women, Aboriginal people, and people who are involved in the drug trade because of their addiction. 
"This leave decision by our Supreme Court, like so many other recent decisions, show that the Harper government is clearly taking a wrong path," says David Fai, lawyer for Mr. Lloyd. "Minimum sentences disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of our society like my client Mr. Lloyd and so many others residing in the DTES. I am grateful for the assistance of organizations like Pivot Legal Society and the BCCLA who intervened at the Court of Appeal level and continue to do wonderful work on behalf of all of us."
A date for when the Supreme Court of Canada will hear Mr. Lloyd’s appeal has not been set. Pivot Legal Society will next decide if they will apply to intervene.
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About Pivot Legal Society
Pivot Legal Society is a leading Canadian human rights organization that uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Canada. Pivot’s award-winning work includes challenging laws and policies that force people to the margins of society and keep them there. Since 2002 Pivot Legal Society has won major victories for sex workers’ rights, police accountability, affordable housing, and health and drug policy. 
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