October 22, 2013
For The New Brunswick Beacon
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
Joshua Lawrence Hanlon, 19, of Fredericton plead guilty in court this morning after being caught in possession of marijuana.
Police were running a routine traffic check under the Westmoreland Street Bridge on the North Side on the night of March 14 when they stopped a dark colored Toyota Corolla. The officer immediately noticed the stench of marijuana coming from the car.
Hanlon, the driver of the vehicle, had red, glossy eyes and had fixed and dilated pupils.
He was arrested and police searched the vehicle. This is when they found a black book bag containing a medium sized Mason jar full of marijuana.
Today in court, after Hanlon plead guilty, the Crown asked he receive a significant fine worth more than the street value of the drugs.
The jar contained 32 grams of the weed. The street value was between $320 and $400.
Justice Mary Jane Richards sentenced Hanlon to pay an $800 fine and put him on one year of probation, under which he has to attend addictions counseling and be medically assessed for any mental disorders. He has no previous criminal record.
Justice Richards said a lot of young pot smokers do so to cope with their problems, but that it is not a proper treatment for depression or other disorders.
Hanlon told the court he believes he was addicted to marijuana, but is doing much better now.
“If you want to go to college, you should get off this stuff,” said Justice Richards, who also told Hanlon that smoking marijuana lowers your IQ and “makes you stupid.”
“We’ve all seen people who have been smoking weed all their life and at 50 they can barely speak,” said Richards.
Possession of marijuana is illegal under Section four of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Section. The maximum penalty for being caught with a small amount is six months in jail or a $1000 fine.
The night Hanlon was stopped, none of the officers on scene were qualified to access drug impairment. Justice Richards warned him it would have been worse had someone been there.
According to the American National Institute on Drugs, marijuana is the most common illegal drug detected in impaired drivers.
In November of 2011, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse reported that 20.8 per cent of Canadians aged 16-18 reported having driven after smoking marijuana in the previous year. This was slightly higher than the 19.6 per cent who claimed to participate in drunk driving.
The same report revealed as many as 14 per cent of drivers in car accidents were under the influence of cannabis.
“People think that they can drive while under the influence of marijuana but they can’t,” said Justice Richards. “It’s a drug.”