City Police Follow Pot Ruling

City Police Follow Pot Ruling
Posted by CN Staff on June 20, 2003 at 09:25:30 PT
By Rob O’Flanagan, The Sudbury Star 
Source: Sudbury Star 
Greater Sudbury Police are following recent court rulings in Ontario and are using discretion when it comes to possession of small amounts of the drug. In most cases, according to an police official, charges aren’t being laid for simple possession. The federal government is on course to decriminalize pot possession, but until new laws are passed, Ontario cops will follow recent Ontario court decisions, said Staff Sgt. Todd Zimmerman of the criminal investigation division. 
Two decisions this year found that there are no laws forbidding the possession of small amounts of marijuana and cases against those charged with simple possession were thrown out. “In Ontario it is no longer an offense for simple possession,” said Zimmerman. “Recent court decisions in Ontario are being appealed, but until they are, simple possession is not an offense and police officers aren’t laying charges for it.” But Zimmerman said it is up to investigating officers to determine if other criminal activity is linked to an incident of possession. Trafficking or cultivating pot is a criminal offence and if evidence shows that someone in possession of the drug is engaging in these activities, charges will be laid. “There is no black-and-white answer to the issue, but if there is no evidence of cultivation or dealing, then the chances are you are not going to be charged,” he said. Canada’s confusing marijuana laws are made even more confusing by the fact that federal legislation and provincial rulings are often at odds. Simple possession remains a criminal offence federally, but if a provincial judge rules that existing laws are unconstitutional, non-existent or unnecessary, that judge’s ruling becomes a precedent and is treated as law. That is, until such time as the Crown appeals the decision in the Supreme Court. “There may be one law for the whole country, but when a (provincial) judge makes a decision, it is binding for the province it was made in,” Zimmerman said. “We don’t make the law; we are obligated to enforce the law.” In January, Windsor Justice Douglas Phillips dismissed two drug charges against a 16-year-old youth. In his ruling, he said parliament had failed to address problems with Canada’s marijuana laws. On May 16, Justice Steven Rogin of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice upheld Phillips’ decision. The decision effectively made existing federal laws governing simple possession invalid. The feds tabled legislation earlier this month that would decriminalize possession, but still make it against the law and punishable with a fine rather than a criminal conviction. Note: For now, at least, no charges for simple possession are being laid.Source: Sudbury Star (CN ON)Author: Rob O’Flanagan, The Sudbury Star Published: Thursday, June 19, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Sudbury StarContact: letters thesudburystar.comWebsite: http://www.thesudburystar.comRelated Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Stays Charges in Cases of Marijuana Police Ignore Pot Party in Front of HQ Allows Marijuana Ruling To Stand
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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on June 20, 2003 at 09:51:30 PT
More Marc Emery in Toronto coverage
London Free Press: Sun:
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Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on June 20, 2003 at 09:37:23 PT
Sirs,  If the current laws on marijuana are invalid, then Cauchon's proposal becomes not "decriminalization" but RE-criminalization. The reason the current laws are invalid is because they do not allow for medical access. Cauchon's proposed new laws do not address the medical issue either; if they pass, does he really expect the courts to accept them?
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