Supreme Court To Issue Ruling Soon on Pot Law

Supreme Court To Issue Ruling Soon on Pot Law
Posted by CN Staff on December 18, 2003 at 07:26:34 PT
By Jim Brown
Source: Canadian Press 
Ottawa  Decriminalization of marijuana, an issue pushed to the political back burner by the departure of Jean Chretien and the arrival of Prime Minister Paul Martin, is about to be catapulted back into the headlines by the Supreme Court of Canada. The court announced Wednesday that it will rule next week on a trio of cases in which the key question is whether federal law violates the Charter of Rights by mandating criminal penalties, including potential jail time, for possession of small amounts of pot. 
Whichever way the judgment goes, it seems sure to reignite the debate that heated up this year when the Chretien government brought in legislation to decriminalize simple possession. The bill died on the House of Commons order paper when Chretien called an end to the fall parliamentary session last month. Martin Cauchon, then justice minister, expressed hope that Martin will reintroduce the legislation. The new prime minister has said in the past that he favours decriminalization in principle. But he has also been mindful of conflicting opinions among Liberal backbenchers and suggested the matter needed further debate. Martin has not said, since he took power a week ago, whether he will revive the bill when Parliament resumes in the new year. The Supreme Court will deliver its opinion next Tuesday. The cases at issue involve two self-described marijuana activists and one man who was simply unlucky enough to be caught toking up. The most colourful of the three is David Malmo-Levine, who argued his case in person at the high court in May, dressed from head to toe in hemp clothing and fortified by a hit of hash before he entered the courtroom. He used to run the Harm Reduction Club, a non-profit co-operative in East Vancouver that offered advice on moderate and safe marijuana use and supplied pot to some 1,800 members. Another case centres on Christopher Clay, who ran the Hemp Nation in London, Ont., a store he started with a government loan. He sold marijuana seeds and seedlings in a deliberate challenge to the law. The third man is Victor Caine, who was arrested by a police officer after lighting a joint in a van in a parking lot in White Rock, B.C. He had 0.5 grams of pot in his possession. Trafficking issues were part of the Malmo-Levine and Clay cases, but the central issue before the Supreme Court was whether possession for personal use should be a crime. Federal lawyers argued there is "no free-standing right to get stoned" and said Parliament must be free to legislate against drug offences unfettered by constitutional fences. Defence lawyers contended that criminal penalties for minor drug offences were disproportionate and violated the guarantee of fundamental justice in the Charter. The bill sponsored by Cauchon would have eliminated jail time and criminal records for people convicted of possessing small amounts of pot and treated their actions as minor offences punishable by fines - somewhat like traffic violations. But the legislation would not have resulted in outright legalization of pot. And it would have maintained or increased the current tough penalties for large-scale trafficking and grow operations. The bill raised the ire of the Bush administration in Washington, even though several U.S. states have already decriminalized pot. Officials there denounced Cauchon's move, and the American ambassador to Ottawa warned there could be longer lineups at border points as U.S. customs officers step up enforcement efforts. Source: Canadian Press Author: Jim BrownPublished: December 17, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Canadian PressRelated Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Court to Rule on Pot Cases Toke or Not To Toke? Advocates Get Day in High Court
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Comment #14 posted by John Tyler on December 18, 2003 at 20:22:57 PT
Christmas Present
What a Christmas present that would be for the world if the Canadian Court declared Cannabais Prohibition unlawful. 
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Comment #13 posted by 420eh on December 18, 2003 at 16:13:52 PT
Probably what....
....may happen is that the courts could rule that the law does violate the charter of rights. if so they could allow the government x amount of time to correct things.what bothers me is the line in the article that states "Martin's comments clearly signalled that, even if the high court upholds the constitutionality of the present law, his government will still move to change it." if this is true then in the end we may have is what we had here in ontario this past summer...a short legalization period before the government/courts jumps in and makes changes.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on December 18, 2003 at 14:52:24 PT
Another Question
The courts are going to rule on the 23rd but Martin wants to revive the pot bill. Couldn't it wind up not working like what just happened with the summer of legalization?
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on December 18, 2003 at 13:11:39 PT
News Brief from The CBC
Second-Hand Pot Smoke a Problem, Halifax Nurses Say HALIFAX - The smell of pot is not so sweet to some nurses working at a Halifax hospital. December 18, 2003They're upset that they've been forced to breathe second-hand dope smoke wafting from a room where a patient has been smoking medical marijuana for a week. So they complained to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre and their union. "They've taken the patient to another room that's something like a closet, but ventilated, and put towels at the bottom of the door so the smoke does not come out of that room and into the hallway and other patient's rooms," said Joan Jessome, president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union. That's satisfactory for the moment, especially as the patient is scheduled to be discharged Monday. But Jessome wants the hospital to put a policy in place. John Cook, a member of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana, agreed. The hospital should have a policy for dealing with medical marijuana, he said.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 18, 2003 at 11:51:35 PT
Canadian Press: Martin To Revive Pot Bill
Thursday, December 18, 2003 
OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Paul Martin says his government will reintroduce legislation to decriminalize simple possession of marijuana when Parliament sits again in the new year. Martin indicated Thursday that the bill, first brought in under Jean Chretien, could be toughened in committee before it passes. "I think that one's got to take a look at the fines," he said. "I think that you have to take a look the quantities, and I think that there has to be a larger effort against the grow-ops and against those who distribute." But the prime minister said he agrees with the principle that young people should not be dogged throughout life by a criminal record if they are caught in possession of small amounts of pot. The Supreme Court of Canada is set to rule next week on a challenge to the current marijuana law in which the key issue is whether criminal penalties, including jail time, for simple possession violate the Charter of Rights. Martin's comments clearly signalled that, even if the high court upholds the constitutionality of the present law, his government will still move to change it. The prime minister's remarks came as he prepared to meet Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, who was in Ottawa to confer on unrelated regional issues.
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Comment #9 posted by Virgil on December 18, 2003 at 09:49:00 PT
The Drug War Clock - The USG will spend $19.2 billion and the states will spend more than that. At 12:53 the clock reports total state and federal expenditures on the drug war so far this year-- $37,938,000
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Comment #8 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 18, 2003 at 09:21:10 PT:
Joshua Wolf Shenk
Very Intersting essay. It thouroughly provokes ANYONE to show how hypocritical and misled we as Americans view drugs...
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Comment #7 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 18, 2003 at 09:17:21 PT:
Just some interesting stats.
Number of U.S. Prisoners
1966: 199,654
1976: 264,970
1986: 528,945
1996: 1,987,110Our War On Drugs budget is now at 18 billon a year and increasing. The goal of this war is irrelevant. It is not a war, but a business. A business that locks non-violent drug offenders in prison for MMS(mandatory minimums). A business so powerful, that one who dares to speak against it is defamed and misjudged. Even U.S. judges have came forward to show their absolute discomfort that they had no choice but to lock 18 and 19 year olds for 10 years at a time. Only in this business can you lock someone up longer for drug possession than murder and rape. This is a business that runs down the line into our jobs. Testing positive for marijuana can get you fired. So in essence, you self-incriminate yourself with the piss, which I believe is unconstitutional. This is a business, just a business...
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Comment #6 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 18, 2003 at 08:21:15 PT
Will this ever happen in the US supreme court?
How many years do you think it will be until the United States Supreme Court declares that the minority group that enjoys cannabis will have equal rights, and freedom from fear? Or will it ever happen? How can we paint the picture of a people yearning to be free, rather than potheads who just want to get stoned?
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Comment #5 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 18, 2003 at 08:18:58 PT
I have a dream
I have a dream that one day people of all races black, white yellow and red will be judged not by the color of the urine test strip but by the content of their characters!
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 18, 2003 at 08:09:11 PT
I agree and why the 23rd keeps going thru my mind. Christmas is a time for Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men! That's what I was raised to believe at least. Christmas is a time of giving and sharing and this ruling wouldn't be right if it isn't good news. 
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on December 18, 2003 at 07:59:21 PT
Here we go
This is the day we've been waiting on for years! The Canadian Supreme Court could take a bold step forward for the entire human race. The timing of 12/23 is definitely intriguing. I think doing right before the biggest holiday of the year is for stealth - anyone in PR knows that you don't to make your big splash during the holiday week, no one is paying attention to the news. The question is, why the stealth approach? Maybe it's intended to minimize the bleatings of US officials....the impact will be less if no one is reading the papers on those days. i.e., if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it....
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Comment #2 posted by yippierevolutionary on December 18, 2003 at 07:50:13 PT
systemgonedown have you read Al Franken's new book
He talks alot about how ridiculous the left/right bias argument is. He says the more important issue is the sensationalism of the news. In Al's words "asking whether the media has a liberal bias is like asking if Al Quada uses too much oil in their hummus. The problem with Al Quaeda is that they are trying to kill us"I am convinced that our true enemy is the media and that's why it's so important to create our own media. FoM your site is so important.
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Comment #1 posted by systemgonedown on December 18, 2003 at 07:31:04 PT
About the News......or lack thereof 
There's a song by System Of a Down called "Sugar", and in the beginning of the video theres a man who plays an angry news anchor. This is what he says...
"I wish I could tell you more pertinent news. But we're in a RATINGS SYSTEM. And the key word is "Sensationalism". They got you runnin around from 9 to 5. And from 5 to're mine. I tell you what THEY want you to know. And you think it's THE TRUTH! OPEN YOUR EYES!!! Our global economy is depleting us of our lives!! and natural resources. And are you happy?!?!?!" 
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