420 Magazine Background

Pot Law Back To Martin

Thread starter #1


With last week's Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the marijuana debate is
once again in full flower. In a 6-3 decision, the high court upheld current
federal pot laws, concluding Ottawa has a right to declare marijuana
possession is a crime.

And if the government, in its wisdom, decides in future to declare
possessing small amounts of marijuana is not a crime? That's fine, too.

"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," says the judgment.

It's not a simple answer but it's a sensible one. The court ruled on the
law's constitutionality, not whether the punishment fits the crime. It left
that issue for Ottawa to determine.

Our marijuana laws, which have been on the books since the 1920s, are
unevenly applied and due for an overhaul. Only about 5 per cent of the
20,000 or so Canadians charged each year with possessing a small amount of
marijuana go to jail.

The judicial system's resources would be better used in cracking down on
large-scale growers and traffickers, and on preventing the use of more
dangerous drugs.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has said he supports decriminalization in "very,
very, very small amounts."

He plans to reintroduce a bill that would maintain or increase already
stiff penalties for traffickers. It would also wipe out criminal penalties
for those caught with small amounts of pot, instead making possession a
minor offence punishable by fines.

How much is a small amount? That will be a topic for heated debate. But
until further notice, possessing pot is still against the law.

Pubdate: Sun, 28 Dec 2003
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Toronto Star
Contact: lettertoed@thestar.com
Website: thestar.com | Toronto Star | Canada's largest daily