Pubdate: Mon, 13 Jun 2016
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Toronto Star
Author: Joanna_Smith
Page: A10


Contradiction exists between Liberals' view on pot and recent police

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," New Democrat 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 Ottawa's plan to
legalize and regulate marijuana in a speech to the United Nations
General Assembly in New York.

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

Liberal MP Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief , 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"Quite frankly, until those laws are repealed by Parliament through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.
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