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Recent Pot Possessors Get A Break

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The law won't be going after people caught with small amounts of pot
during the past 26 months.

Federal Crown Wayne Chorney says the Department of Justice directed
prosecutors not to re-instigate any possession of marijuana charges
stayed between July 30, 2001 and Oct. 7. Any bench warrants issued
during that period will be rescinded and charges withdrawn.

"Everything is going to be cleared up," Chorney said.

People who were convicted of simple possession in that time can appeal
the conviction and the Crown likely will concede, Sault Ste. Marie's
senior drug prosecutor said.

The directive comes on the heels of a ruling Tuesday by the Ontario
Court of Appeal. The court struck down several sections of federal
regulations as unconstitutional, making it easier for medical
marijuana users to get a good supply of the drug.

The decision also clarified the difference between consumption for
medicinal use and recreational use, which is once again illegal. Five
months ago, police in Ontario abandoned laying possession charges for
small amounts -- usually less than 30 grams -- after a Superior Court
justice upheld a lower court ruling throwing out a Windsor teen's drug
charges.

The judge said there was no legal basis to ban simple possession since
Ottawa had failed to comply with a 2000 order to create new pot laws.

The federal government had one year -- until July, 30, 2001 -- to revamp
the law before the existing law would become invalid in Ontario.

Chorney echoed police chief Bob Davies who indicated earlier this week
that from this point on charges will be laid and prosecuted.

"People are going to be charged whether it's seven grams, 15 grams or
30 grams," Chorney said.

"It's business as usual until the minister does something with
legislation decriminalizing or the Supreme Court makes its decision."

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to rule on a different case
this fall that could determine the future of marijuana possession laws
and Parliament is bracing for fierce debate over proposed legislation
that would soften penalties for possessing small amounts of the drug.


Pubdate: Sat, 11 Oct 2003
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Sault Star
Contact: ssmstar@saultstar.com
Website: Sault Star