Pubdate: Sat, 15 Apr 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Author: Neil Bowen
Page: A2


Teen marijuana smoker declares, in Sarnia court, it's legal

A 17-year-old teen who said he's been a long-time user of marijuana
announced Thursday in Sarnia court that the narcotic was legal, on the
same day federal legislation was introduced.

The youth pleaded guilty to a probation violation and to possession of
under 30 grams of marijuana. "It's legal now," the youth said. Justice
Mark Hornblower said while changes in legislation may be made by the
federal government, marijuana use will remain illegal for those who
are the teen's age.

Federal legislation that was expected to be introduced Thursday will
make possession legal for those 18 and over. It is part of the Liberal
government commitment to legalize, regulate and restrict access to
recreational marijuana.

In February the teen was spotted by a police officer on a city street
near his home in violation of a court-ordered curfew. There was a
strong odour of marijuana on the teen but a quick search found nothing.

A thorough search found a bag holding 7.6 grams of marijuana hidden in
the teen's groin area.

The teen has a number of mental health conditions and he
self-medicates with marijuana, said defence lawyer Don Henderson.

Since he was an infant he has been prescribed medication, said the

"Right now, I just smoke weed… I just won't take any kind of
medication," he said.

"He is doing significant damage to his brain. It is known that
marijuana can have significant impact on brain development (of
youth)," said federal prosecutor Michael Robb.

Efforts to provide the teen, who lives on his own, with helpful
programs have been done. The teen's attendance with his probation
officer and at a counseling program is sporadic, said a probation officer.

"It's an enforcement case. We can lay out programs but if he doesn't
attend, we have no other recourse," said the probation officer about
the laying of violation charges.

"I get charged every day… I will keep missing (probation
appointments), if they want to charge me, they can," said the teen.

It's a difficult situation and there is not a good prognosis if the
young man doesn't take some steps, said Henderson.

"People are trying to help but you don't see it that way," said
Hornblower told the teen.

The only option was a six-month probation order that bans his
possession of marijuana which is the law, said Hornblower.

There are ways to address marijuana use, said Hornblower.

The probation order allowed for use of prescribed drugs. Medical use
of marijuana through a prescription is legal.

In accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act the teen cannot be
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