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National Cannabis Crusader Avoids Prosecution In Regina

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A legal loophole has allowed a national cannabis crusader, who brazenly
lit a marijuana pipe on the steps of the Regina police station, to avoid

The loophole affected about 10 to 15 federal prosecutions in Regina, and
an estimated 4,000 cases across Canada.

Marc Emery, 45, is a well-known marijuana activist and dealer, leader of
the B.C. Marijuana Party and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine.

Emery pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing under 30 grams of the
drug stemming from a July 12, 2003 incident in which he lit a marijuana
pipe on the steps of the Regina police station with several officers
looking on.

Emery, who has spearheaded similar protests across Canada, was arrested
and spent seven hours in police cells.

A stay of proceedings was declared on the charge against Emery because the
simple possession section of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
(CDSA) was ruled unconstitutional for a short period of time.

It's based on an Oct. 7, 2003, decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal
which said "the regulations under the CDSA hadn't met the concerns that
the Ontario courts had raised with respect to medical marijuana usage,"
said Regina lawyer Hal Wellsch, agent for the federal Crown.

An Ontario Superior Court judge had ruled there was no current ban on
simple possession of marijuana in Ontario because the federal government
failed to comply with an earlier court order to make medical marijuana

As a result, Wellsch said the Ontario Court of Appeal declared that from
July 2001 to Oct. 7, 2003 the simple possession of marijuana section was
in breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal government
didn't appeal the ruling.

"Therefore, those charges (against Emery) were not valid ... that's the
ruling we're going by," Wellsch said.

Since then, the simple possession charge has been clarified.

"The Ontario Court of Appeal effectively made changes to the regulations,
judicially, which then reinstated the validity of charges after (Oct. 7,
2003)," Wellsch said.

Emery, who lives in Vancouver and sells marijuana seeds through his Web
site, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Author: Andrew Ehrkamp
Source: Regina Leader-Post
Contact: letters@leaderpost.com.
Website: http://www.canada.com/regina/leaderpost/
Pubdate: Tuesday, January 13, 2004