Pubdate: Mon, 13 Jun 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joanna Smith
Page: 7


Motion Today to Have Marijuana Decriminalized

OTTAWA - The New Democrats are urging the Liberal government to 
decriminalize pot before they legalize it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to legalize, 
regulate and restrict access to marijuana, and his government plans 
to get started next spring.

Meanwhile, the existing criminal law remains on the books and police 
are expected to enforce it.

The NDP is introducing an opposition day motion Monday calling on the 
House of Commons to recognize there is a contradiction in giving 
people criminal records for something the government has said should 
not be a crime.

The motion also calls on the government to decriminalize simple 
possession of marijuana for personal use immediately.

"Canadians thought they were voting for a Liberal government that 
would act quickly to stop the arrests and subsequent criminal records 
for those who smoke pot," NDP MP Murray Rankin said in a statement.

"But instead we see a government that has not moved on this issue and 
worse, they have encouraged law enforcement to crack down on 
marijuana users, further wasting resources and bringing greater 
confusion to the legal system," said Rankin, the justice critic for his party.

Health Minister Jane Philpott formally announced the federal 
government's plan to legalize and regulate marijuana in a speech to 
the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of this problem," 
Philpott said April 20 in the speech at a special session on global 
drug policy as she revealed the promised legislation could come in spring 2017.

That same day, Trudeau argued it would be irresponsible to 
decriminalize marijuana in the meantime. "We believe in the 
legalization and regulation of marijuana because it protects our kids 
and keeps money out of the pockets of criminal organizations and 
street gangs," Trudeau told the House of Commons.

"The fact of the matter is that decriminalization, as the member 
proposes, actually gives a legal stream of income to criminal 
organizations. That is not what anyone wants in this country," Trudeau said.

Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and 
parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, confirmed in 
February that police should continue enforcing Criminal Code 
provisions on marijuana.

"Quite frankly, until those laws are repealed by Parliament through 
the appropriate processes, they should be upheld, they should be 
obeyed," said Blair.

He was responding to members of the police community who had said the 
discussion surrounding legalization had created confusion, especially 
for officers on the front lines tasked with enforcing the law.

On May 26, Toronto police along with city municipal licensing and 
standards officials raided 43 marijuana dispensaries.

They arrested 90 people, including shop owners and employees.

A coalition of marijuana dispensaries in Toronto said police and city 
officials made a "major mistake" in targeting the pot shops and 
called for the charges to be dropped.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom