Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jun 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


The case of Clifford Long and the constitutional validity of Canada's 
pot possession law remains up in the air while the 30-year-old tries 
to find a lawyer and the funding to defend himself.

Long was charged in 2005 with having 3.5 grams of marijuana, which is 
worth about $40. But Ontario Court Justice Howard Borenstein 
acquitted him last summer after ruling the country's pot law is 

The Crown appealed and yesterday the case was to proceed - except 
there were snags. The tattooed man, in custody on unrelated matters, 
animatedly told Superior Court several times he has been unable to 
hire a lawyer and has been turned down for legal aid.

The Law Society of Upper Canada website says the lawyer who 
successfully argued his case has been suspended for administrative 
reasons. Long told the court he called the lawyer's office and was 
told he was no longer practising.

At one point, Long told Justice Eva Frank he didn't care if he had 
counsel and, in fact, didn't care about the case anyway.

Later, informed of the broader implications of his acquittal, he 
punched his fist in the air and cheered.

Federal Crown Lisa Csele said an unspecified number of prosecutions 
have been adjourned pending the outcome of Long's case. "Judges are 
refusing to take guilty pleas ... and it's affecting the 
administration of justice," she said.

But about 30 minutes into the bizarre proceedings - at one point Long 
volunteered that he was served notice of the appeal while standing in 
line at Tim Hortons - another lawyer, Indra Bhaggan, entered the 
courtroom as representative of the firm Long has tried unsuccessfully 
to retain.

At first she said the firm needed the funding issue sorted out. After 
a break, she said it appeared it was.

Frank adjourned the case until July 16 to ensure things are on track.

In his decision last year, Borenstein agreed that a 2003 decision to 
allow access to medical marijuana was made by a policy statement, and 
this informality makes the pot possession laws invalid.

An Oshawa judge last fall similarly dismissed charges against three young men.
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