Cops Mellow Out

Cops Mellow Out
Posted by CN Staff on June 06, 2003 at 09:44:59 PT
By Ian Robertson, Toronto Sun
Source: Toronto Sun 
Toronto's top cop has told his officers not to lay simple possession charges when they nab pot smokers with a few joints or a small bag of weed. Chief Julian Fantino announced yesterday that officers will continue to investigate marijuana cases, but he will leave it to them to "exercise their discretion" about laying minor charges. Illegal pot will be seized, regardless of the amount, but officers "will not lay charges of simple possession," Fantino said. 
LIMBO He said officers will record the bust, then leave the case in limbo until the courts and Parliament clarify the law. Debates in the courts and Parliament over decriminalizing pot possession have left cops in legal handcuffs despite pot laws remaining in force, Fantino said. "We've had a number of cases quashed in our courts recently." Without proper direction from Crown prosecutors and lawmakers, the police have been left "basically to our own devices to sort this mess out," he said. "I really feel that we're the meat in the sandwich ... it's a very difficult predicament. Calling his decision "an interim measure," Fantino said, "We'll have to revisit every one of those cases, depending on what is done by Parliament." The Ontario Association of Chiefs is also advising forces not to lay charges for simple possession. But association president Tom Kaye warned that people shouldn't think they can openly carry marijuana without fear of being arrested. NOT A HAVEN "These individuals may well be charged down the road," he said. Fantino said cannabis connoisseurs may take his words as an indication they'll get a free ride if they're caught with weed, "but I'd hate to think Toronto will be a haven for pot smokers. CONVICTION TOSSED "While the federal government has been unduly preoccupied with the introduction of legislation to decriminalize the simple possession of marijuana, police officers in Ontario are currently in a position of uncertainty with regard to whether simple possession of marijuana is an offence at all," Fantino said. On May 16 in Windsor, Mr. Justice Steven Rogin of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice overturned a youth's conviction for being caught with less than 30 grams of pot. The public and cops get caught in the middle whenever a federal law that police are required to enforce is overruled, Fantino said. "Federal offences, and especially those aimed at stemming the use of illegal substances, demand a uniform and consistent application nationwide," he said. "It is not in the public interest to allow safe havens from prosecution for possession of marijuana to exist within Canada." Note: Chief tells officers to not charge casual tokers.Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)Author:  Ian Robertson, Toronto SunPublished: Friday, June 6, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Canoe Limited PartnershipContact: editor sunpub.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Cannabis News Canadian Links Steven Rogin -- Judgment Police Are in a Fog Over Pot Laws Backing Off on Pot Pot Smokers Not Worth The Effort 
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