Pubdate: Fri, 14 Mar 2003
Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canada Web)
Copyright: 2003 CBC


SUMMERSIDE - A provincial court judge has stayed a marijuana possession
charge against P.E.I. resident Ronald Stavert, dealing another blow to
Canada's pot laws.

Judge Ralph Thompson cited an Ontario court ruling which declared possession
of marijuana unconstitutional. The decision does not mean Stavert is
innocent or guilty of the charge, but that there is not enough evidence to
proceed with a prosecution.

The charge of simple possession was for having under 30 grams of pot. Since
no plea was entered in the case, the exact quantity of marijuana Stavert had
is not known.

"The poor guy left the courthouse not knowing what happened, I had to
explain to him outside," Stavert's lawyer, Cliff McCabe, said after the
decision. "He's relieved but also understands that it's not over. So until
we get some indication that the Crown isn't going to proceed with this, we
have to assume they'll probably appeal it."

Judge Thompson ruled the Ontario case, the Parker decision, means residents
in that province can't be prosecuted for simple posession."If this
prosecution is permitted to continue, in effect it would be tantamount to a
ruling that more than one third of the population of Canada is immune from
prosecution," he writes, "while the rest of the residents of Prince Edward
Island are not."

"I just wish somebody in the government would make a decision to resolve
this, bring in legislation, fix the regulations, decriminalize, do whatever
you gotta do but make a decision because there are hundreds, thousands of
people across the country that are in limbo until it's decided," McCabe said
leaving the courthouse.

The federal minister of justice has been floating trial balloons about
relaxing the laws for simple possession, but has not made any attempts to
change Criminal Code.

Judge Thompson's decision states until either that happens or there's an
appeal he's not prepared to proceed with the case.

*From Judge Thompson's decision

All residents of Canada, wherever they are situated, are entitled, in
fairness, to expect a uniformity of approach from the Federal Crown,
wherever it performs its prosecutional function. Until such time as the law
is changed by Parliament, or the higher courts provide a ruling which will
enable such an approach, this charge involving simple possession of
marijuana will not proceed in this court.
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