Pot Laws Don't Breach Charter: Supreme Court

Pot Laws Don't Breach Charter: Supreme Court
Posted by CN Staff on December 23, 2003 at 08:00:34 PT
By Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail Update 
Source: Globe and Mail 
If marijuana is going to be legalized, Parliament that will have to be the one to do it, the Supreme Court of Canada said Tuesday. Refusing to strike down the law and effectively legalize marijuana possession, the court said Parliament has the constitutional right to punish marijuana possession — including imposing terms of imprisonment."Our concern is solely with the issue of constitutionality," Mr. Justice Charles Gonthier and Mr. Justice Ian Binnie wrote for a 6-3 majority. "We conclude that it is within Parliament's legislative jurisdiction to criminalize the possession of marijuana should it choose to do so.
"Equally, it is open to Parliament to decriminalize or otherwise modify any aspect of the marijuana laws that it no longer considers to be good public policy."In a separate judgment, the court upheld a federal law prohibiting possession of marijuana for trafficking.The appeals — the first Charter test that the marijuana laws have faced at the Supreme Court — involved three men convicted of marijuana offences. In a joint attack, they asked the court to declare the law unconstitutional because the drug is harmless.An estimated 100,000 Canadians use the drug daily.The status of the law remains only slightly less confusing in the wake of the ruling. Against a backdrop of court challenges involving medicinal and recreational pot use, the federal government has made ginger moves to reduce or drop penalties.Last week, Prime Minister Paul Martin intimated he will reintroduce a bill proposed by Jean Chrétien that would wipe out criminal penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. The proposed bill would have made possession of less than 15 grams of pot a minor offence punishable by fines of $100 to $400.At the same time, it would have maintained or increased stiff penalties for large-scale growers and traffickers. The bill died when Parliament was shut down last month to give Mr. Martin a fresh start in January.Conservative-minded critics of the plan argued that 15 grams was too much to be considered casual use. They said it would be impossible for police to assess how high a driver was, and that biker gangs and other criminals would thrive under the new rules.In giving a modest endorsement to decriminalization, Mr. Martin said it would have to involve "very, very, very small amounts." He said he support a parliamentary committee considering the reduction of the original 15-gram proposal.Government lawyers took a hard line in Supreme Court, insisting that judges cannot weigh what Parliament had in mind when it made marijuana possession illegal in 1923."By their very nature, some people do not like the laws," federal lawyer David Frankel argued during the appeal. "But it is not a popularity contest. Polling results may be a matter that politicians want to take into consideration, but they are not a matter for the courts."Mr. Frankel said the appellants were simply trying "to elevate a recreational pursuit to a constitutional right. There is no free-standing right to get stoned."The appellants — David Malmo-Levine, Victor Caine and Christopher Clay — argued that marijuana is virtually harmless and that criminal sanctions violate their right to life, liberty and security. All three had failed to persuade lower courts that the pot law is unconstitutional.Their lawyers based their attack on two main grounds. The first challenged the government to show serious harm to the health of marijuana users in order to justify a law that deprives offenders of their liberty. They stressed that marijuana is a unique case, since a host of doctors and government-appointed inquiries have concluded that the drug is relatively safe.The appellants also argued that the federal government has no jurisdiction to create sanctions involving health issues, because health is a provincial responsibility.At times, the hearing resembled a battle experts and statistics. The government claimed that up to 50,000 Canadians — mostly pregnant women and schizophrenics — could be harmed by marijuana. Lawyers for the marijuana enthusiasts countered that marijuana laws have created a thriving black market and left more than 600,000 people with criminal records.Mr. Clay, 32, is one of three litigants who argue that threatening people with a criminal record and jail time for what they contend is a victimless crime breaches Charter of Rights' guarantees of life, liberty and security of the person.Mr. Conroy is the lawyer for Victor Caine, who was convicted of possession for sharing a joint with a friend in his car while parked at a beach near Vancouver.The third litigant is David Malmo-Levine, who formed the Vancouver-based Harm Reduction Club for marijuana smokers. Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author:  Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail Update Published: December 23, 2003 Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Court Upholds Marijuana Law Banning Possession Does Not Violate Charter Court To Rule on Minor Pot Possession
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 12:01:24 PT
Stop The Drug War Article
Breaking: Three Judges Dissent as Canadian Supreme Court Upholds Marijuana Prohibition:
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Comment #8 posted by sukoi on December 23, 2003 at 11:26:59 PT
The GCW and SystemGoneDown,
There is an internet primary vote going on at “The Official Internet Primary” We should inundate them with votes for Kucinich.
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Comment #7 posted by OverwhelmSam on December 23, 2003 at 08:29:56 PT:
Time To Turn To The Elected Officials
The Supreme Court upholds the laws made by legislatures and elected officials. It's time to start lobbying the legislators to change the law. Uncooperative legislators can be campaigned against for re-election. Hit the career politicians where it hurts - fire them!
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Comment #6 posted by The GCW on December 23, 2003 at 08:24:45 PT
System Gone Down
You should be able to find stuff by searching within these sites.
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Comment #5 posted by SystemGoneDown on December 23, 2003 at 08:18:14 PT
Kucinich for President!!!!!!!
Does anyone know where I can order a Kucinich 04' bumper sticker?
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 08:17:21 PT
Related News Article from The Associated Press
Court Rules Marijuana Possession Illegal By Tara Brautigam, Associated Press Writer December 23, 2003TORONTO (AP)--Canada's top court ruled Tuesday to keep marijuana possession illegal, dealing a blow to activists who had argued the drug causes no serious harm. In a 6-3 decision spanning 400 pages, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that trafficking and possession, even in small amounts, would remain a criminal offense. The judgment prompted praise from law enforcement groups and disappointment from proponents of legalization. ``My huge patriotism may slowly be dissipating. I have a lot of faith in my country, in freedom and justice, but it doesn't seem like we have a whole lot of that left,'' said Dominic Kramer, a marijuana activist who runs a store that sells hemp products and paraphernalia in Toronto. Tony Cannavino, president of the Canadian Police Association, welcomed the decision but expressed concern over a proposed bill by Prime Minister Paul Martin that would soften penalties for pot possession. He said marijuana growing seemed to be on the rise. ``We have more and more `grow ops' across the country,'' he told reporters in Ottawa. ``You wouldn't see that 10 years ago.'' A key question in the Supreme Court decision was whether Parliament has the constitutional right to punish marijuana possession, given the lack of proven serious harms from its use. The high court examined three cases involving two pot activists and one man who was caught smoking. All three failed to persuade lower courts that the pot law is unconstitutional. Copyright: 2003 The Associated Press
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on December 23, 2003 at 08:16:02 PT
Speaking of Kucinich,
this update just in:NEW TV AD CAMPAIGNAds by George Lois Include Voice Over by Danny GloverThe Kucinich campaign is launching nine new television ads created by the legendary George Lois, widely regarded as one of the most creative and successful advertising communicators of our time. Lois has also produced new print advertisements and campaign posters for the campaign. Lois created the winning ad campaigns for Senators Jacob Javits, Robert Kennedy, Hugh Scott, and Warren Magnuson, and ran the "celebrity" ad campaign that helped free the innocent Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. The nine TV ads include the voice of movie star, film producer, activist, and United Nations Peace Messenger Danny Glover .Watch video of one of the TV ads. Click here to contribute toward these ads. 
Real Player Windows Media 
Modem Broadband Modem Broadband All nine ads will be screened, copies will be made available, and Dennis Kucinich and George Lois will be available to answer questions at 12:00 noon Central Time on January 4, 2003, at the Press Room of the 2 p.m. presidential candidates debate in Johnston, Iowa. The ads will begin airing in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., on January 4. Lois has also produced print ads based on the posters below.Help us to air these ads extensively. Contribute!You can also contribute by purchasing Lois' remarkable posters for the campaign. See below.To: All Kucinich Supporters 
From: George Lois, New York AdmanIn October, The New York Times asked nine leading designers to create a visual statement for one of the Democratic Presidential Candidates. We were not allowed to select the candidate of our choice. When Gail Collins, the editor of the Time's editorial page, informed me that I had drawn Dennis Kucinich, the mighty-might from Cleveland, Ohio, I marveled at my luck. My wife and I had studied each of the candidates during the debates and Kucinich's message, plans, mind and heart continually surprised us and totally won us over. I did research on him, including reading "A Prayer for America," his powerful and visionary ode for re-awakening the American Dream.My poster was featured in the Times Magazine section on November 30 sporting the headline "The Eyes That See Through The Lies." This is a bold statement that Kucinich was running against a bunch of candidates who had allowed themselves to be conned and/or Bushwhacked into a future of unending pre-emptive, un-American wars that are jeopardizing our economy, our Democratic way of life, the future of our youth, and indeed, the future of our planet.Responding to my poster, Congressman Kucinich called me from Iowa and asked me to create his ad campaign. When the man who I believe is the one candidate that can inspire the world once more thanked me - I thanked him for being there when America needs him.I see Dennis Kucinich as a shorter Abraham Lincoln, elected as a member of the House directly to the Presidency, and becoming with his passionate no-nonsense, visionary belief in the future of mankind, yet another savior of our nation: Washington, Lincoln, FDR, Kucinich!So, open up your wallet and buy one of my Special Edition Kucinich Posters, we only have 5,000 of each. Help us raise $250,000 by January 1, 2004, and show the world it is time to pay attention to Dennis Kucinich! As far as the polls go - screw the polls. Dennis Kucinich is today's Seabiscuit - rather short, knobby knees, an oatmeal lover, but a winner with the heart and guts of a champion.Seasons Greetings,
George LoisThis stunning FEAR ENDS. HOPE BEGINS poster (18" x 24") is destined to become one of the Collector Items of the 2004 Presidential Race. Designed by Legendary Adman George Lois. Fear Ends. Hope Begins. Photo by world renowned Photographer Dennis Brack. This poster is printed on premium heavyweight 80# cover stock, with an aqueous coating to prevent fingerprints and light reflection. This is the perfect Poster to communicate your Kucinich support to coworkers, family, and friends. Yours for a contribution of only $30 each, shipping included. Click here for your copy.This hard hitting poster (18" x 24") was designed by Legendary Adman George Lois and first appeared in the New York Times on November 30, 2003. Photo by world renowned Photographer Dennis Brack. This poster is printed on premium heavyweight 80# cover stock, with an aqueous coating to prevent fingerprints and light reflection. This is the perfect poster to communicate your Kucinich support to coworkers, family, and friends. Yours for a contribution of only $30 each, shipping included. Click here for your copy.SAVE $10 - GET THE SET FOR A $50 CONTRIBUTION. CLICK HERE.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on December 23, 2003 at 08:12:08 PT
Make Kucinich President to stop the cagings.
For anyone who is just dropping by,
& haven't heard: Democratic Presidential nominee, Dennis Kucinich, put in writing that as PRESIDENT He WILL: "DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA" -"in favor of a drug policy that sets reasonable boundaries for marijuana use by establishing guidelines similar to those already in place for alcohol." (POSTED ON His website!) The process demands that people register to vote and in some cases it requires that You REGISTER AS A DEMOCRAT!That gets You in the door to vote for which Democratic candidate You want to run against the Jr. Bush.You must register in advance! In Colorado for example, it requires that You Register as a Democrat and do so 30 days before the election.If this Cannadian Supreme Court news seems unacceptable, than please react, and include this aspect of Your efforts.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on December 23, 2003 at 08:08:24 PT
More Details
From The Globe and Mail
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