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  Marijuana Possession Law 'Erased'
Posted by CN Staff on May 17, 2003 at 06:35:55 PT
By Ellen van Wageningen, CanWest News Service  
Source: Ottawa Citizen  

cannabis Windsor -- Possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana is no longer against the law in Ontario, a Windsor judge says in a ruling released yesterday that compounds the chaos over Canada's pot laws.

Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin's decision has "effectively erased the criminal prohibition on marijuana possession from the law books in Ontario," said Brian McAllister, the Windsor lawyer who challenged the law on behalf of a 17-year-old client.

Judge Rogin's decision is almost certainly to be followed by judges of Ontario's lower court, where nearly all marijuana possession cases are decided.

"This decision is also likely to have significant repercussions on the viability of marijuana prosecutions across the country," Mr. McAllister said.

Hundreds of marijuana possession cases in Ontario have been put on hold pending Judge Rogin's ruling and the outcome of other cases currently before the Supreme Court of Canada.

That shouldn't change until the Ontario Court of Appeal reviews Judge Rogin's decision, said Jim Leising, the Justice Department official responsible for drug prosecutions in Ontario.

"We certainly continue to maintain that possession of marijuana is prohibited by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and we'll be moving quite quickly to appeal this judgment," he said.

Mr. McAllister said police in Ontario should note Judge Rogin's judgment and stop laying charges for marijuana possession.

"Otherwise, the police will be arresting people for an activity which is no longer outlawed," he said.

Judge Rogin upheld Ontario Court Justice Douglas Phillip's decision to quash a charge against a Kingsville youth for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana because the law is no longer valid.

The government needed to pass a new law prohibiting marijuana possession after the current one was struck down by the Ontario Court of Appeal two years ago, Judge Rogin agreed.

The appeal court ruled in favour of severe epileptic Terry Parker, of Toronto, saying the law violated the constitutional rights of sick people who used marijuana for medical reasons. It gave the government until July 31, 2001, to remedy the situation or the law would be invalid.

The government responded by passing the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, which were found to be unconstitutional by a Toronto judge in another case involving Mr. Parker. That judge said the problem is there is no legal supply of marijuana for sick people.

Meanwhile, the federal government is attempting to get new legislation dealing with marijuana before Parliament by the end of the month.

It is proposing to make possessing 15 grams or less of marijuana a non-criminal offence for which people could be fined as little as $100. The relaxing of the pot possession laws would be accompanied by stiffer penalties for drug traffickers and marijuana growers, as well as drug use prevention, education and treatment strategies.

Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Author: Ellen van Wageningen, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, May 17, 2003
Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
Contact: letters@thecitizen.southam.ca
Website: http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/

Related Articles & Web Site:

Cannabis News Canadian Links
http://freedomtoexhale.com/can.htm

Pot Laws Unconstitutional: Lawyer
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15703.shtml

Possession Law Challenged in Summerside Court
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15316.shtml

Judge Calls Marijuana Law Invalid
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread15092.shtml


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Comment #2 posted by Ethan Russo MD on May 17, 2003 at 09:37:35 PT:

Changes Every Hour
Watching this issue unfold in Canada is akin to a boxing match between two hard head who won't go down. It's a bloody battle, and no one can say who'll be left standing.

Hopefully the courts will end the chaos.

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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 17, 2003 at 07:41:38 PT
News Brief from The Canadian Press
Judge Rules Pot Possession Not Against Law

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Windsor, Ont. -- Possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana is no longer against the law in Ontario, a Windsor judge said in a ruling released yesterday.

Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin's decision has "effectively erased the criminal prohibition on marijuana possession from the law books in Ontario," said Brian McAllister, the lawyer who challenged the law on behalf of a 17-year-old client.

Rogin's decision is almost certain to be followed by judges of Ontario's lower court, where nearly all marijuana possession cases are decided.

"This decision is also likely to have significant repercussions on the viability of marijuana prosecutions across the country," he said.

Hundreds of marijuana possession cases in Ontario have been put on hold pending Rogin's ruling and the outcome of other cases before the Supreme Court of Canada.

That shouldn't change until the Ontario Court of Appeal reviews Rogin's decision, said Jim Leising, the justice department official responsible for drug prosecutions in Ontario.

"We certainly continue to maintain that possession of marijuana is prohibited by the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and we'll be moving quite quickly to appeal this judgment," he said.



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