Martin Rehashes Pot Bill

Martin Rehashes Pot Bill
Posted by CN Staff on December 19, 2003 at 08:51:43 PT
By Les Whittington, Ottawa Bureau
Source: Toronto Star 
Ottawa -- The federal government will revive controversial legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, Prime Minister Paul Martin says.Martin said his government would re-introduce the legislation when the House of Commons resumes in February. An earlier bill that would have eliminated simple possession of marijuana as a criminal code offence died when the fall session of Parliament ended last month. 
The Prime Minister said he stands by the principle enshrined in the earlier draft legislation that young people caught with a small amount of pot should not wind up with a damaging life-long criminal record.The earlier bill introduced by former prime minister Jean Chrétien would have decriminalized pot use by allowing a person to possess up to 15 grams without facing a potential criminal conviction and a criminal record. Instead, there would be ticketing by police with fines from $100 to $400.But Martin said yesterday he wants higher fines for possession and tougher penalties for distribution and cultivation of pot. "I think that one's got to take a look at the fines," he said. "I think that you have to take a look at the quantities, and I think that there has to be a larger effort against the grow-ops (marijuana producers) and against those who distribute."Martin, who has vowed to improve relations with Washington, dismissed U.S. complaints that decriminalizing marijuana will create a haven for pot growers north of the border."It's very important to make clear to the Americans that we are not talking about legalization, and that there are going to be heavy fines and that we are going to go after the grow-ops, we are going to go after those who distribute," Martin said in a year-end interview with CTV."But, look, Canada will make its own decision based on its own values."The Prime Minister's commitment comes a few days before the Supreme Court of Canada is expected to re-ignite the national debate over policing pot use. The court will rule on Tuesday on three cases that hinge on whether federal legislation goes against the Charter of Rights by imposing criminal penalties such as prison sentences for possession of small amounts of the drug.Martin's remarks indicated that, even if the high court upholds the constitutionality of the current marijuana law, his government will go ahead with the proposed reforms.Asked about his own experience with pot, Martin, 65, said yesterday, "I never smoked anything." But "I will tell you that there was an earlier time many years ago when (his wife) Sheila made brownies and I must say they did have a strange taste."But he stressed that there is a health risk from marijuana use.Justice Minister Irwin Cotler later reiterated the government's decision to go ahead with the pot legislation.Speaking on CBC-TV, he added, "We'll also go ahead with enhanced penalties with regard to the cultivators and producers and we'll also seek to enforce the law with respect to trafficking."The previous bill also envisioned tougher penalties for growers, with up to a maximum 14 years' imprisonment for anyone convicted of producing more than 50 plants.But the Chrétien legislation was harshly criticized as inadequate by police, provincial justice ministers, the Canadian Alliance party, some Liberal MPs and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), as well as the U.S. government.Before the bill died on the Commons order paper, the federal government had been considering toughening the legislation by reducing the amount of so-called "personal pot" allowed to 10 grams from 15 grams; adding a minimum mandatory sentence for people convicted of running marijuana grow operations and imposing criminal sanctions rather than fines on those repeatedly caught with pot. Martin yesterday invited a parliamentary committee to consider amendments to the legislation, principally to increase fines and reduce the amounts Canadians can possess for their own use.Note: Would decriminalize possession of a small amount but PM suggests higher fines than in earlier legislation.Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)Author: Les Whittington, Ottawa BureauPublished: December 19, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Toronto Star Contact: lettertoed Website: Related Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links To Roll His Own Pot Bill Court To Issue Ruling Soon on Pot Law
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on December 19, 2003 at 11:18:48 PT:
Merry Christmas, Prime Minister Paul Martin.
"War is over if you want it." --John Lennon and Yoko Ono
[War on Cannabis]And a Happy New Year for Canada.
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on December 19, 2003 at 10:06:35 PT:
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Take Note.
[Although opinions are not unanimous, there is substantial medical evidence indicating the medical efficacy of marijuana. 
The American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs has reported that "anecdotal, survey, and clinical data" 
demonstrate marijuana's medical usefulness. The National Institutes of Health stated that "Marijuana looks promising enough 
to recommend that there be new controlled studies done." Groups ranging from the American Cancer Society to Kaiser Permanente 
support access to or research on medical marijuana.Individual doctors agree. In one survey, more than 70 percent of American cancer specialists said they would prescribe 
marijuana if it were legal; nearly half said they have urged their patients to acquire the drug irrespective of the law. A 
poll of the British Medical Association yielded similar results.The New England Journal of Medicine has backed access to medical marijuana. In May Lancet Neurology pointed out that 
marijuana had proved effective against pain in lab tests and could become "the aspirin of the 21st Century." In a recent 
issue of Brain journal, researchers at London's Institute of Neurology reported: "In addition to symptom management, cannabis 
may also slow down the neurodegenerative processes that ultimately lead to chronic disability in multiple sclerosis and 
probably other diseases." Policy analyst Paul Armentano reports that an Oxford University study published in Clinical 
Rehabilitation found that marijuana aided MS patients in bladder relief, pain relief, and spasticity.Earlier this year the American Nursing Association supported legalizing access to therapeutic marijuana. So did the New York 
State Association of County Health Officials.This doesn't mean there aren't risks in smoking pot, or that it is the best medicine for everyone under all 
circumstances. But marijuana should be a legal option in a society that styles itself both compassionate and free. --Where’s The Compassion? ]
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