Drug Use and Offending

Q12. What types of sentences are given to drug offenders?

The most frequent sentence imposed on adult offenders was a fine (45%), followed by prison (23%) and probation (19%). In youth courts, the most common sentences were probation (56%), open or secure custody (19%) and fines (12%).

Fines for drug possession or prison for drug trafficking are commonly given to adult offenders

Almost one-half of drug offenders found guilty of a drug offence in adult provincial courts were given a fine as a sentence. Adults found guilty of drug possession were more likely than those found guilty of drug trafficking to receive a fine (57% versus 17%). In contrast, drug traffickers were more likely than those accused of possession to be given a prison sentence (49% versus 12%). Probation was imposed in somewhat similar proportions for trafficking and possession offences (21% and 14% respectively) (see Appendix B, Table 15 for more information).

Youth account for a higher proportion of individuals sentenced to probation

Contrary to adult courts, the most common disposition in youth courts for drug-related offences was probation. Over one-half (56%) of youth found guilty of drug possession were sentenced to probation. For other drug offences (production, import/export and proceeds of crime), this proportion increased to 58%.

Overall, one-in-five (19%) youth convicted of a drug offence were sentenced to an open or secure custody, and that proportion increased to one-in-four for trafficking offences. Probation and fines were most often imposed in possession charges (see Appendix B, Table 16 for more information).


Adult Criminal Courts Survey 2000/2001 and Youth Court Survey 2000/2001, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

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