Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2003
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2003 The StarPhoenix
Author: Kevin O'Connor


REGINA -- Cannabis crusader Marc Emery of B.C. 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 a 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 sentences for 
people who cultivate pot.

"The Canadian government is trying to convince Canadians that growing 50 
plants is tantamount to a whole host of violent criminal acts," he said.
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