Pubdate: Thu, 06 Mar 2014
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2014 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Lee-Anne Goodman


MacKay May Move to Let Police Ticket Possession

OTTAWA * The Conservative government is seriously considering more 
lenient marijuana laws that would allow police to ticket anyone 
caught with small amounts of pot instead of laying charges, Justice 
Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.

"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," Mr. 
MacKay said following the weekly Conservative caucus meeting on 
Parliament Hill.

"The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would 
look at options that would ... allow police to ticket those types of 
offences." Prime Minister Stephen Harper is open to such an approach, he added.

Mr. MacKay has hinted in the past that such a move was under consideration.

The country's police chiefs - as well as some Tory caucus members - 
have long called for ticketing people for pot possession instead of 
laying criminal charges.

But Mr. MacKay has also been among the Conservatives' fiercest 
critics of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's stance on the issue. Mr. 
Trudeau supports the legalization of marijuana, a position the Tories 
have mocked with gleeful abandon.

Mr. MacKay accused the Liberal leader of promoting drug use to 
elementary school children last fall after Mr. Trudeau answered a 
question about his marijuana policies from First Nations high school 
students in Sioux Valley, Man. There were elementary school kids in 
the audience at the time.

"Justin Trudeau's comments to elementary schoolchildren regarding the 
legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but is completely 
unacceptable and grossly inappropriate," Mr. MacKay said in a 
statement at the time.

"He's directly delivering a message to children now that recreational 
drug use is OK."

In fact, Mr. Trudeau had responded to the question in Sioux Valley by 
saying that marijuana was dangerous for young people.

He added that he believed that regulating pot would help keep it out 
of the hands of children.

The Liberal leader called on Mr. MacKay to retract the comments, 
calling them "shameful."

Mr. Trudeau wasn't in the House of Commons on Wednesday, but Liberal 
MP Sean Casey said the Conservative shift "is almost surprising, but 
it really isn't because this government will do or say anything to 
win" as a 2015 federal election looms.

"It's laughable how vicious and fact-free the attacks have been, and 
now this supposedly principled group has apparently read their own 
internal polls that have indicated that Mr. Trudeau is absolutely on 
the same page as most Canadians on this issue," Mr. Casey said.

As recently as last Friday, a Tory backbencher railed against Mr. 
Trudeau's marijuana stance as he mocked NDP leader Thomas Mulcair's 
suggestion that he'd be open to forming a coalition with the Liberals.

"Canadians know what a Liberal-led NDP high-tax coalition would mean: 
a soft on-crime agenda; repealing mandatory prison sentences for 
violent offenders; a reckless plan to legalize marijuana, making it 
easier for children to smoke," David Anderson said in a member's 
statement in the Commons.

"When will the anti-trade leader of the official opposition stop 
passing the pipe in an effort to close a deal with the pro-drug 
trade, high on smiles, low on substance, leader of the third party?"

Under the Criminal Code as it now stands, anyone convicted of 
possessing small amounts of marijuana can be sent to prison for up to 
five years.

First-time offenders can face fines of up to $1,000 or as much as six 
months in jail.
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