Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jun 2008
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sam Pazzano, Courts Bureau


Challenger to Possession Law Says 'I Don't Want to Deal With

A challenge of Canada's simple pot-possession law took a comic twist
in court yesterday.

The federal government is appealing a provincial court judgment last
summer that ruled the simple possession law is unconstitutional
because of flaws in medical marijuana regulations.

The appeal hearing was scheduled yesterday.

However, the lawyer who won the case for Clifford Long is no longer
practising law and Long rambled on in court until his new lawyer
showed up to represent him.

Long, 30, who was originally charged in 2005 with possessing $40 worth
of pot or 3.5 grams after he was pulled over for a seatbelt violation,
told Justice E. Eva Frank that he "doesn't care about the
constitutional challenge."

"I don't want to deal with this," said Long, who was frustrated with
his inability to get Legal Aid to pay for his appeal lawyers' bills.

Frank told Long he had to "take steps" to ensure Legal Aid would pay
for him to defend himself against the government's appeal.

"There's only so much I can do in jail," replied Long, a
heavily-tattooed man who is in custody on more serious, but unrelated,
charges. He was arrested last month.

He said he couldn't get Legal Aid to return his phone

This appeal could affect more than 40,000 people charged with simple
possession of pot every year. In 2006, 43,000 possession charges were
laid across Canada.

Last summer, Justice Howard Borenstein ruled Canada's pot-possession
laws are unconstitutional after Long's lawyer argued the federal
government only made it policy to provide marijuana to those who need
it, but never made it an actual law. Because of that, he argued, all
possession laws should be quashed. Borenstein agreed and dismissed the

Long has no medical issues and doesn't want a medical exemption to
smoke marijuana. In 2001, Health Canada implemented regulations which
allow access to marijuana to people who are suffering from grave illnesses. 
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