Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jan 2003
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Stephanie Rubec


An Ontario judge found no laws forbid possession of small amounts of

OTTAWA -- The Justice Department "probably" will appeal yesterday's Ontario
court ruling there are no laws forbidding possession of small amounts of

Jim Leising, the Justice Department's director of prosecution in Ontario,
said federal lawyers will move quickly to clarify the laws surrounding
possession of pot for recreational use and decide whether to appeal the
ruling to the Ontario Superior Court.

"It probably will be appealed," Leising said. "Certainly there is a need to
ensure the law is clear."

Leising downplayed the importance of the ruling, pointing out it isn't
binding on any judge because it came from a lower Ontario court.

"It's not much of a precedence," he said.

Justice Douglas Phillips threw out charges against a Windsor 16-year-old
yesterday, siding with defence lawyer Brian McAllister, who argued there are
no laws in Canada prohibiting the possession of 30 grams of marijuana or

McAllister also submitted Ottawa failed to deal with a two-year-old ruling
from the Ontario Court of Appeal backing Terry Parker's right to smoke pot
for medicinal purposes.

Ottawa's response to the Parker ruling was the Marijuana Medical Access
Regulations, meant to allow registered Canadians to possess and smoke
marijuana for medical reasons in some circumstances.

Last month, a Commons committee recommended a new law that would mean
possessing up to 30 grams of pot would result in nothing more than a ticket
and no criminal record.

An earlier Senate committee report urged Ottawa to legalize pot, prompting
Justice Minister Martin Cauchon to promise new laws by March.

Leising said the Justice Department responded adequately to the Parker case
and rejects McAllister's arguments.

McAllister warned even though the Windsor ruling could set a precedent,
anyone possessing small amounts of pot could still be charged.

Joseph Neuberger said yesterday's decision could be the beginning of the end
for laws making simple possession illegal in Canada. Neuberger is one of the
lawyers involved in a constitutional challenge of marijuana laws by users
who say they don't meet the needs of seriously ill people who need pot for

"Because of the Parker decision, the government had to put in place a regime
that allowed proper access for those who needed it for medical purposes," he

"The argument is the government never complied with that order . . . that
for simple possession, there really was no law."
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