Pot Still Illegal, Top Court Rules

Pot Still Illegal, Top Court Rules
Posted by CN Staff on December 24, 2003 at 08:42:43 PT
By Kirk Makin, Justice Reporter
Source: Globe and Mail 
The Supreme Court of Canada drove a legal stake into the heart of marijuana liberalization yesterday with a judgment affirming that possession is a criminal act, and stressing the potential dangers of smoking it."The evidence indicates the existence of both use and misuse by chronic users and by vulnerable groups who cause harm to themselves," a 6-3 majority said. "There is no free-standing constitutional right to smoke 'pot' for recreational purposes."
The judgment demolished reformists' strategy of using the courts to kill marijuana laws. Instead, the Supreme Court prodded them none too gently back toward the doors of Parliament. "We started this case because of political inertia," said a disappointed lawyer for the appellants, York University law professor Alan Young. "It's a little ironic that eight years later, they send us back to the institution that started it all in the first place."The majority said Parliament had ample reason to fear the prospect of stoned drivers, pregnant women or schizophrenics causing harm to themselves or others. It also found penalties for possession not grossly disproportionate to the goal of deterring marijuana use. The argument had been that this contravened the Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.Rejecting another pillar of the constitutional challenge, the court said there is nothing unconstitutional about the government criminalizing marijuana smoking even if it simultaneously turns a blind eye to the greater dangers of alcohol and tobacco use.The appeals -- the first Charter test that the marijuana laws have faced at the Supreme Court -- involved three men convicted of marijuana offences. David Malmo-Levine, Victor Caine and Christopher Clay jointly argued that marijuana is harmless, and that the possession law is a historic evil which has created a thriving black market and saddled more than 600,000 people with criminal records. "I'm bummed out, man," said Mr. Malmo-Levine, who operates a marijuana-lovers venue in Vancouver known as the Harm Reduction Club. "I was dreaming of a green Christmas but they grinched out on us. Their hearts are two sizes too small."Prof. Young said the lasting scandal of the judgment is that it gives politicians carte blanche to criminalize an activity even if there is no proof it can cause harm to others. "There is no moral brake on Parliament if they decided tomorrow to prohibit playing golf," he said.Prof. Young also said the ruling takes the pressure off Prime Minister Paul Martin to bring in marijuana reform.Mr. Martin intimated last week that he will reintroduce a bill that would wipe out criminal penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. However, his endorsement of the bill was tepid, and he stressed that it would pertain to "very, very, very small amounts."The dissenting judges yesterday -- Madam Justice Louise Arbour, Mr. Justice Louis LeBel and Madam Justice Marie Deschamps -- took strong issue with the government's public-health arguments and said it had only vaguest data to back them up. " Canadians do not expect to go to jail whenever they embark on some adventure which involves a possibility of injury to themselves," Judge Arbour said. "I see no reason to single out those who may jeopardize their health by smoking marijuana." However, the majority were adamant that the Charter of Rights cannot be stretched to protect the lifestyle choices of various individuals."One individual chooses to smoke marijuana," Mr. Justice Ian Binnie and Mr. Justice Charles Gonthier said. "Another has an obsessive interest in golf. A third is addicted to gambling. A society that extended constitutional protection to any and all such lifestyles would be ungovernable."Parliament need only apprehend a minimal potential for harm in order to pass legislation, they said."Vulnerable groups are at particular risk, including adolescents with a history of poor school performance, pregnant women and persons with pre-existing conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, schizophrenia or other drug dependencies." The majority also said most offenders these days are granted discharges or conditional sentences, and appeal courts are quite capable of overturning any sentence which is too strong.Note: Charter bid on marijuana possession fails to pass Supreme Court scrutiny.With a report from Canadian PressSource: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author:  Kirk Makin, Justice ReporterPublished: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 - Page A1 Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Go Up in Smoke for Marijuana Activists Supreme Court Upholds Marijuana Ban End To Year of Pot Activism Highs
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Comment #3 posted by jose melendez on December 26, 2003 at 05:24:28 PT
No one has EVER been arrested for excessive golfing, and except for cases of fraud, no gambler is mandated treatment or jail for the habit.The position that constitutional protections should be denied on the pretense that cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, schizophrenia or other drug dependencies may result specifically ignores volumes of evidence to the contrary.Schizophrenia, for example, affects at about 1 percent of the world population. Yet in America, where marijuana use is high despite arbitrary and capricious laws, schizophrenia is slightly lower than 1 percent. Tobacco cigarettes, alcohol and fatty foods lead to extremely high proportions of the population afflicted by the other diseases claimed as the reason to keep personal cannabis use illegal. ALL DRUG USE IS MEDICAL, PERIOD. But poison is legal, just not pot.
Got hypocrisy? Go figure: drug war IS crime!
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 24, 2003 at 16:23:34 PT
Article from Russia
Animal Lovers Favor Drug LegalizationBy Simon Ostrovsky Thursday, Dec. 25, 2003. Page 1 Staff Writer Two men walk into a clinic to get their cat spayed.What sounds like the opening line of a dubious joke is in fact the beginning of one of many criminal investigations that has left veterinarians and animal lovers up in arms.According to the owner of a Moscow pet clinic, when the vet brought out a syringe to give the cat in question a shot, the men identified themselves as agents of a narcotics squad -- and raided the premises for a banned drug.Together with animal rights groups, veterinarians say that the newly formed federal anti-drug agency -- created from the now defunct tax police -- has started prosecuting animal care-givers for using an anesthetic widely used in the West but banned in Russia. Complete Article:
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Comment #1 posted by billos on December 24, 2003 at 11:22:44 PT:
I guess Pee Walters..
is still a pretty powerful guy in Canada. Too GD bad. Sad state of affairs.
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