Pubdate: Thu, 29 May 2003
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 Daily Press (CN ON)
Author: Debbie Pell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Local News - Legislation introduced by the Liberal government to 
decriminalize possession of marijuana does not go far enough for some.

Justice Minister Martin Cauchon hopes to push the bill, introduced Tuesday, 
through parliament by year's end which would reduce the offence for 
possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less to a minor offence, as opposed 
to a criminal one.

That would mean fines ranging from $150 to $400 for adults and $100 to $250 
for youths.

Robert Laperriere, who organized a march in Hearst, does not feel the 
proposed bill goes far enough.

"You get caught with any number of grams and you'll still have a fine," he 
said. "If you can't pay the fine they'll accumulate because now the police 
know you have marijuana all the time and you'll accumulate heavy fines and 
if you can't pay them you're back to square one -- you go to jail."

While Laperriere does not feel the proposed bill goes to the extent it 
should, it is better than nothing at all he said.

Ed Walsh, who uses the weed for medicinal purposes, did not hide his use of 
marijuana and subsequent arrest for it when he ran in the provincial 
election four years ago and he's not hiding it now.

In fact, although he did not succeed in establishing the Northern Ontario 
Separatist Party as an independent, he feels his conviction for possession, 
albeit for a small amount, actually garnered him some votes.

"I figure it got me a few votes," he said.

Walsh is all for Cauchon's proposed bill being pushed through Parliament.

"The police have better things to do than to go out and chase down people 
who are smoking a little bit of pot," he said.

Timmins Police Chief Denis Lavoie was unavailable for comment at press time 
and, while Deputy Chief Richard Laperriere said he has his views with 
regard to certain components of the legislation, he wants to investigate 
the matter before making comment.

Ontario Provincial Police detective superintendent Jim Hutchinson, 
designated spokesman on the matter, was unavailable for comment.
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