Delay Marijuana Reform: Provinces

Delay Marijuana Reform: Provinces
Posted by CN Staff on September 29, 2003 at 08:38:09 PT
By Janice Tibbetts, The Ottawa Citizen
Source: Ottawa Citizen 
Provincial justice ministers say they will lobby their federal counterpart, Martin Cauchon, to abandon his controversial bill to decriminalize marijuana in favour of more pressing justice initiatives that have been in the works for years.The provinces will make their unified pitch this week as Mr. Cauchon tries to convince them to buy into the federal marijuana bill, which he hopes will pass in Parliament this fall before Prime Minister Jean Chrétien retires.
"If you only have so much time, don't use it on decriminalizing marijuana when there's a lot of other more important, pressing issues to deal with," said Alberta Justice Minister Dave Hancock, summing up the sentiment of the provinces.Mr. Cauchon has put the item on the agenda when he meets with his provincial counterparts tomorrow and Wednesday in his home town of La Malbaie, Que.Mr. Cauchon is a Chrétien loyalist and the prime minister has been a major backer of the marijuana bill. The provincial justice ministers, however, will arrive at the meeting with a heavy briefcase of other priorities.Provincial priorities include a national sex offender registry, modernizing divorce laws to remove the adversarial concepts of custody and access, automatic first-degree murder charges in child killings, increased legal aid funding, streamlining "mega-trials" that are bogging down the justice system, ending expensive preliminary inquiries and placing more restrictions on which prisoners are eligible for conditional sentences."I think Minister Cauchon should be doing what he can to get those Divorce Act changes passed this fall," said British Columbia Attorney General Geoff Plant."I raised this with the justice minister and he said from his perspective the decriminalization initiative is a higher priority and with respect, I disagree."Added Manitoba Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh: "Marijuana is just not on our radar screen."Mr. Cauchon's spokesman, Mike Murphy, said that although Mr. Cauchon will listen to the concerns, he intends to move forward with the marijuana bill.The legislation proposes to decriminalize possession of 15 grams or less, so that people would be fined from $100 to $400 instead of being criminally charged.The bill would also double the maximum jail terms for people caught with marijuana grow operations.Police, who oppose the legislation, estimate that 15 grams is the equivalent of 15 to 30 cigarettes, depending on how they are rolled.The Liberal government premise is that police should not be spending their resources pursuing small-time offenders, nor should people caught with marijuana for their own use be saddled with criminal records."The alternative penalties program will be sending the right message about the use of cannabis and stronger penalties for the grow-ops is certainly something that the minister is looking to beef up on," said Mr. Murphy.The outcry against the marijuana legislation is strongest from Canada's four largest provinces -- Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta -- where justice ministers argue that relaxing possession laws will send confusing messages to young people and encourage organized crime to grow and sell even more marijuana.The provinces, responsible for the administration of justice, have big stakes in the bill.New Brunswick Justice Minister Brad Green says that provincial ministers were not properly consulted on the marijuana bill before Mr. Cauchon introduced it in Parliament last spring."I suspect that, in itself, will be the subject of some discussion at the meeting," said Mr. Green.Ontario Attorney General Norm Sterling, who is not attending the meeting because he will be campaigning for re-election in the Oct. 2 provincial election, has raised the same complaint. With over $1 billion traded daily between the U.S. and Canada, Mr. Sterling said Ontario has the most to lose if the U.S. decides to tighten its border with Canada because of drug concerns.Mr. Murphy has said that senior bureaucrats, including deputy ministers, met with their provincial counterparts to discuss the legislation and Mr. Cauchon called each provincial and territorial justice minister last spring before tabling the bill.Paul Martin, the prime minister in waiting, has been lukewarm in his support for decriminalizing marijuana and it is expected that the bill will be one of many that will be up for review once Mr. Chrétien is out of the picture.Mr. Martin has said that he opposes decriminalization except for people caught with a "very, very small quantity" for personal use, although he has not elaborated.Note: Cauchon pushed to drop bill, address more pressing needs.Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON) Author: Janice Tibbetts, The Ottawa CitizenPublished: Monday, September 29, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa CitizenContact: letters thecitizen.southam.caWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Leaning on US To Halt Marijuana Bill Far Will MPs Go To Torpedo a Bill? Group Sought U.S. Help To Derail Pot Bill
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Comment #8 posted by 420eh on September 29, 2003 at 19:34:01 PT
at first i was all gung ho about this thing known or passed onto us as "criminialization" but as time goes after i listened to marc at kingston this has changed. i'd have to agree that soon all provinces will reconize what 4 have them already have. there is no law now so why not have them just not change a thing and drop the bill......420eh
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on September 29, 2003 at 13:51:14 PT
Just say no to "re-crim"!!!
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Comment #6 posted by BigDawg on September 29, 2003 at 12:25:58 PT
My thoughts exactly
I am excited by those who want to drop the ball on recrim.. oops, I mean decrim.The courts are in the best position to settle the matter and seem to be doing quite a good job.
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Comment #5 posted by WolfgangWylde on September 29, 2003 at 10:48:03 PT
Heck, sh*tcan it all together. The courts are legalizing, province by province. As for border traffic, Georgie W. can't afford to further hurt the American economy if he wants a second term.
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Comment #4 posted by escapegoat on September 29, 2003 at 10:44:10 PT
I agree! Delay cannabis RE-criminialization!
Wow, I seem to be agreeing with the provinces on this one, but for precisely the opposite reason! Marijuana is already legal in four provinces, with court challenges which will throw the law out in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador coming soon thanks to Marc Emery and his Summer of Legalization Tour. And no, the sky hasn't fact, all that is needed now is an application from the Parker decision to throw out the trafficking and cultivation laws (which Crown attorneys are really afraid of, to the point where they are offering generous plea bargains and/or charge withdrawals to avoid a precident-setting ruling) to get the who prohibition millstone off Canada's neck. 
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Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on September 29, 2003 at 10:41:38 PT:
Get Politically Active
To my Canadian brothers and sisters, get active in the political process and shut these status quo anti-marijuana politicians down. A letter a week to your representatives should help. A phone call or a visit is better.
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on September 29, 2003 at 09:03:36 PT
It's interesting....
Legalizing cannabis would help with almost every other item on their priority list. It would save money and resources that would probably pay for every other item on the criminal justice wish list in next year's budget.But of course, all of this talk may just be the political language equivalent of "let the courts do it", since cannabis is already legal in most provinces, and will be in all when Emery gets done with his court dates this fall.Then, all that's left will be a ringing endorsement from the Canadian Supreme Court, which is probably eager to get this done and reprimand Parliament for 30 years of inaction.
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Comment #1 posted by Jose Melendez on September 29, 2003 at 08:57:24 PT
Kids on drugs? Just stop advertising!,4057,7401630%255E13569,00.html
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