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Sorry to hear about your son's situation. Just to be clear, was he charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance only; if so, what was the quantity of marijuana i question?
Perhaps you can confirm the exact charges, as I will be able to provide a more specific answer.
It's important that your son get legal advise prior to making a decision about what he wants to do. That 5 minute chat with Duty Counsel may not have been enough.
But if he does decide he wants to "resolve" this case without going to trial, Duty Counsel are lawyers who can usually assist with that at no cost (they work for Legal Aid Ontario, and are stationed at criminal courthouses in Ontario). They can, for example, assist with a guilty plea, and sometimes they can meet with the prosecutor to discuss the case on behalf of the accused.
If your son doesn't qualify for Legal Aid, he may wish to contact a lawyer through Justice Net (http://www.justicenet.ca/), which is an organization that tries to connect individuals with lawyers willing to take on cases at reduced rates (well below the rate you were quoted by the lawyer you called).
With that in mind, I'd be interested in knowing what he's charged with!
No problem; when you take a look at them, just let me know what the charges are.