No Tickets Issued To Pot Smokers 

No Tickets Issued To Pot Smokers 
Posted by CN Staff on July 19, 2003 at 17:43:14 PT
By Janis Leering
Source: Midland Mirror 
You won't see people running around Midland smoking pot just yet, but local police aren't laying any minor possession charges, either. Midland Police Service is still waiting to see what happens in the Ontario Court of Appeal before charging anyone with possession of small amounts of marijuana. Chief Paul Hamelin said he is keeping track of people who are caught with the substance, but not handing out tickets. "We are still seizing the drugs, and creating a record of the incident," said Hamelin. 
The Ontario Court of Appeal has put a rush on an appeal after a teen was acquitted of possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana this spring. "The Ontario Association of Chiefs has been vocal about the issue of marijuana use, and if it is decriminalized, we want to see that things are done properly." He said police will follow the court's final decision, even if it makes his job more difficult. "Marijuana is a substance which is mind-altering, and it should be something people avoid using. "Just like alcohol, which is a legal substance. The consumption of alcohol contributes to our work, with drunk drivers, assault and domestic situations." Hamelin said there is a big difference between decriminalizing marijuana, and legalizing it. As the law stands, once someone is caught with any amount of pot, they have a criminal record. Such is the case of an Ontario man who had a medical exemption to be able to smoke pot, but he was charged because he was growing it himself. Decriminalizing marijuana means it is still illegal, but there would be no criminal record. People caught with a joint would be given a fine. Legalizing it would mean anyone can have an amount of marijuana in their possession, without being ticketed by police. The court's decision now is whether to allow people to have less than 30 grams of marijuana in their possession. That would equal approximately 20 rolled joints. Under the proposed new laws introduced by Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, possession of less than 15 grams of pot would be a minor offence with no criminal record. Violators would be ticketed and ordered to pay fines ranging from $100 to $250 for youths and from $150 to $400 for adults. Hamelin has several issues with decriminalizing pot. He said marijuana may be accepted as a medical use, but there is no legal way to get it, because cultivating and trafficking are still offences. "It is still illegal to grow your own, or even pass a marijuana cigarette to someone else." Hamelin also believes the regulated amount should be far less than 30 grams. "The government was looking at less than 15 grams, but what we'd like to see is a very small amount, such as less than five grams." He'd prefer to keep marijuana off the streets altogether. "Why introduce another substance into the repertoire, with the possibility for abuse? We have enough already." And if marijuana is ever legalized, he said teens would likely take up the habit. "Young people may try marijuana, but because it's not legal, they choose to stop." Hamelin said the potency of marijuana is much stronger today. "It's not like the 60s' homegrown stuff, where the THC was at a low level. The THC is much higher now, the way large growers can culture the plant. It's more potent." Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main ingredient in the narcotic marijuana, which gives it potency. Marijuana without THC is known as hemp, and is used to make food, clothing, and many other products. Since Midland has also passed a smoking ban, Hamelin said it's unusual to be changing the law regarding marijuana cigarettes. No matter what the courts or medical professionals decide, Hamelin said it is his duty to enforce the law. If marijuana is decriminalized, he hopes the government increases education, and enhances drug enforcement. "This is a serious issue, and if it is decriminalized, Ontario will be out of sync with the rest of the country." With files from Torstar News ServiceComplete Title: No Tickets Issued To Pot Smokers With Small Quantities Source: Midland Mirror (CN ON)Author: Janis LeeringPubdate: July 16, 2003Copyright: 2003 Midland MirrorContact editor baradv.on.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Police Follow Pot Ruling Laws Ban Possession of Marijuana 
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