Pubdate: Fri, 02 May 2014
Source: Standard, The (St. Catharines, CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 St. Catharines Standard
Author: Rob Houle
Page: A2


Top cops say tickets should be option over charges for simple

Niagara Region councillors threw their support behind a police chiefs'
request that officers be given the discretion to issue tickets to
people caught with a small amount of marijuana.

Current federal law dictates police officers lay charges against
someone caught with any amount of pot.

At its meeting in Winnipeg in August, the Canadian Association of
Chiefs of Police decided to ask the minister of justice and attorney
general to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act to allow
officers discretion to issue a ticket to those caught with 30 grams or
less of pot.

The chiefs cite the fact someone found guilty for simple possession
under current legislation will have a criminal record, but will more
than likely only have to pay a fine.

The chiefs say charges can result in lengthy court processes that
remove officers from the street, putting a strain on resources.

St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan's motion to support the chiefs of
police request was deferred at regional council March 20 pending
receipt of the Niagara Regional Police Services position on the matter.

In their council packages Thursday, councillors received a letter from
NRP Chief Jeff McGuire, who said as a member of the CACP he supports
the motion adopted by the association.

McMullan re-introduced the motion that council endorse the position of
the CACP.

"I think we recognize =C2=85 how challenged our police forces, including
our Niagara Regional Police, are in terms of resources, and the fact
the chiefs of police have taken a sound, rational, responsible
position with respect to marijuana legislation," McMullan said.

"If the average age of t his elected body was a little bit younger
than it is, I'm sure this would go a lot further than it does today,"
he added jokingly.

Fort Erie Coun. John Teal spoke three separate times on the matter,
twice t o express concern the motion was endorsing the
decriminalization of marijuana.

"I'm stuck on this point about issuing tickets," Teal said. "If you
give an officer the option of issuing a ticket as a discretionary
option to laying formal charges pursuant to the Act, isn't that
decriminalizing it?"

Teal later said the argument that simple possession charges put a
strain on police resources "should be irrelevant." "The law is the
law," he said. "The enforcement of the law is the obligation of the
police. That should not depend on whether their resources are strained
or not strained. The law is the law, it should be enforced, period."

Councillors voted 19- 5 t o endorse the Canadian Association of Chiefs
of Police's position, which has not garnered the support of the
federal government.

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In support of Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police recommendation
they be able to give tickets rather than lay a charge for possession
of small amounts of pot: Brian Heit, Dave Lepp, Doug Martin, Vance
Badawey, Bill Hodgson, Selina Volpatti, Debbie Zimmerman, Ted Luciani,
Brian Baty, Dan Fortier, David Barrick, Dave Augustyn, Bob Bentley,
Bruce Timms, April Jeffs, Barry Sharpe, Jim Diodati, Tim Rigby, Brian

Opposed: John Teal, Andy Petrowski, Doug Joyner, Dave Eke, Mark Bylsma.
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