Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2003
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2003 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Kevin O'Connor
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


B.C. cannabis crusader Marc Emery was back in Regina Tuesday, launching a 
constitutional challenge to his pot possession charge.

Emery, 45, who runs the B.C. Marijuana Party and has been a vociferous 
critic of Canada's marijuana laws, entered a not guilty plea on a charge of 
possessing under 30 grams of the drug.

The charge stems from July 12 when Emery lit up a marijuana pipe on the 
steps of the Regina police station with several officers looking on. He was 
arrested and spent seven hours in police cells.

Emery told Provincial Court Judge Diane Morris he will argue the charge is 
a violation of his constitutional rights in light of recent court decisions 
that have called into question whether the drug is still illegal.

"It's my clear understanding from the Ontario Court of Appeal decision that 
cannabis has been struck from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act," he 

On June 10, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled it would not overturn an 
Ontario Superior Court decision that cleared a teenager of marijuana 
possession charges. The Superior Court judge ruled there is 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 

In the wake of those decisions, police forces across Ontario announced they 
would not lay marijuana possession charges until there was a decision from 
the Ontario Court of Appeal.

In several recent cases, Ontario judges have simply thrown out possession 

Emery maintains possession of marijuana is now legal in Saskatchewan as 
well as in the other provinces where he has been charged.

Morris adjourned his case for trial to Oct. 16.

Currently, the maximum penalty for simple possession of less than 30 grams 
of marijuana is a six-month jail term and a $1,000 fine.

Under proposed legislation introduced May 27 by federal Justice Minister 
Martin Cauchon, possession of up to 15 grams of pot could become a minor 
offence, fines would be reduced and jail wouldn't be an option.

Emery says the proposed legislation is "terrible" because while it 
decriminalizes simple possession, it includes stiff jail terms for people 
who cultivate pot.

A 2003 Saskatchewan provincial court decision concluded the federal pot law 
is still valid in this province.

In April, Moose Jaw Legal Aid lawyer Merv Shaw asked Judge David Orr to 
declare the marijuana possession law "no longer in effect or force" with 
respect to three men charged with offences under the Controlled Drugs and 
Substances Act.

However, Orr ruled the marijuana laws are fully in force in Saskatchewan 
and the prosecutions of the three would continue.
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