Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jul 2003
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 Daily Press (CN ON)
Contact:  http://www.timminspress.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1001
Author: Bruce MacKinnon
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/decrim.htm (Decrim/Legalization)

POT USERS COULD FACE RETROACTIVE CHARGES, POLICE WARN

Local News - A person who is caught in Timmins with under 30 grams of 
marijuana may not be charged immediately, but will eventually face a 
penalty or jail time.

Until the confusion about recent court rulings is cleared up by the federal 
government, police will not lay charges for possession under 30 grams of pot.

However, a person could face jail time and a criminal record later on, if 
the government rules the old guidelines are still in force, said Timmins 
Police Chief Denis Lavoie.

"We're following the advice of the Ontario Association of Police Chiefs, 
which is carry on as usual, investigate every incident of possession," 
Lavoie said.

"But we won't lay charges right away if the weight is under 30 grams," he said.

"If the ruling comes down the pipe to enforce the laws as in the past, 
charges can be laid retroactively," Lavoie warned.

"If the law changes do not make it a criminal offence, the offender will be 
summoned to provincial court to pay a fine."

Discovery of up to 30 grams  or about an ounce, worth $600 on the street, 
would result in the writing of a ticket on the spot and the confiscation of 
the drug.

"It's the way the federal government is leaning," Lavoie said.

"But too many questions remain, like how to collect the money and how to 
prove the identity of the person, or how much the fine should be."

The difference would be that someone currently charged with a criminal 
offence like simple possession of marijuana, faces federal court, various 
versions of bail, promises to appear and a permanent criminal record.

"The argument is that this would prevent the clogging of our court systems 
with simple possession charges, Lavoie told The Daily Press on Tuesday.

"I don't see our courts in Northern Ontario clogged with such cases," he said.

"It would mean a simple fine instead of a criminal record."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom