Pubdate: Sat, 22 Apr 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Alex MacPherson
Page: A2


Minister says Ottawa has no plans for weed amnesty or freeze on

Saskatchewan pot smokers who get busted over the next 14 months aren't
likely to receive much sympathy from the federal government, which
maintains that the "law is the law until it's changed" on Canada's
birthday next year.

The Liberal government won't offer amnesty to people convicted of
simple possession of marijuana or encourage police departments to stop
enforcing the law until the drug becomes legal, Public Safety Minister
Ralph Goodale told reporters on Friday.

"It is not appropriate in a democratic society where we respect the
rule of law to say, a year or so in advance, we can just pretend the
law doesn't exist. We're going to get to the new regime, but we have
to get there in a step-by-step way that respects the law."

Goodale was in Saskatoon to announce federal funds for Morris
Industries Ltd., the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership and the
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies just over a week after
the government unveiled its pot legalization plan.

The suite of bills introduced on April 13 by Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau's government aims to create a "strict legal framework" by July
1, 2018, under which adults over the age of 18 will be able to possess
30 grams of pot for personal use.

The government's plan - which also promises a "zero-tolerance
approach" to impaired driving - has drawn praise and criticism. It
also raised questions about possession charges, which Ottawa spends
more than $4 million prosecuting each year.

Asked whether it's contradictory for possession prosecutions to
continue as the country marches toward legal weed, Goodale said
enforcement is in the hands of provincial and local authorities, and
that legalization cannot be a "free-for-all."

"The law is the law until it is changed," the veteran MP said. "We're
in the process of making that change, but it can't be done in an ad
hoc, willy-nilly way."

Justice Minister Gordon Wyant was unavailable for comment

A government spokeswoman said he will respond to Goodale's remarks
next week. Wyant has previously expressed qualified support for

Last week, he said one "real concern" for the provincial government is
road safety, because while breathalyzers can detect alcohol, there is
no equivalent tool for marijuana.

"We need to be able to make sure our roads are safe," Wyant said.
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