Pot: Is It Legal or Not Now?

Pot: Is It Legal or Not Now?
Posted by CN Staff on September 23, 2003 at 21:51:09 PT
By Cheryl Wierda, Abbotsford News
Source: Abbotsford News 
Is it legal or isn't it? A provincial court ruling that laws prohibiting possession of marijuana don't exist has prompted discussion over whether possession of pot is now legal."It's certainly caused a lot of confusion . . . what we really need is a higher court decision," said Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy, who specializes in marijuana law.
Two weeks ago, Judge P. Chen said "there is no offence known to law at this time for simple possession of marijuana" when ruling on a New Westminster possession of pot case.However, Abbotsford Police chief Ian Mackenzie said "it's still illegal, despite judge Chen's decision."Mackenzie notes the decision has no binding effect. However, chasing down possession offences doesn't rank as one of the department's top priorities, and police typically only recommend possession charges if a suspect, when arrested for other criminal offences, is found in possession of cannabis.In Chen's decision, he cited an Ontario court of Appeal case, Regina vs. Parker, which ruled in 2000 that marijuana possession prohibitions were invalid.The court suspended the declaration of invalidity for one year to "provide parliament with the opportunity to fill the void." Parliament did not take the opportunity."While I agree that I am not bound by Parker, in my view it should be followed unless there is a good reason not to do so," said Chen in a written decision. "It is, after all, a decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal and no decision of this province's court of Appeal has addressed the issue of the constitutionality of section 4's prohibition against marijuana on the basis of medical use."Conroy noted the Ontario and recent B.C. cases are not binding, but are "highly persuasive."The discussion over legal possession of pot is one that is also happening at the federal government level and in various courts, and a decision in either arena could settle the debate over the legality of possessing pot or "muddy the waters."Conroy is currently awaiting a Supreme Court of Canada decision after a constitutional challenge of pot laws. The federal justice ministry is also considering legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)Author: Cheryl Wierda, Abbotsford NewsPublished: September 23, 2003 Copyright: 2003 Abbotsford NewsContact: editor abbynews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Cannabis News Canadian Links of Judge Chen's Decision Differ On What Judge's Pot Ruling Means Flood In Over B.C. Judge's Ruling Canada's Highest Court To Hear Marijuana Case
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