Pubdate: Mon, 06 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Edward Prutschi
Page: 5


Years ago, when Justin Trudeau stepped onto a platform in a Vancouver
park and proclaimed through a cloud of sweet-smelling haze that a
federal Liberal government would legalize marijuana, there was much
excitement within the cannabis community.

With last week's announcement by Trudeau's provincial Liberal cousins,
the realities of draconian regulation in Ontario have resulted in the
crushing disappointment of those long-forgotten high hopes.

For recreational users, smoking will only be permitted in private
residences. Puffing at work, on university campuses, on patios,
sidewalks or parks, will all remain prohibited.

Of much greater concern is the introduction of sweeping new - and
likely unconstitutional - powers being granted to police to ensure no
one is smoking up in a vehicle. Any police officer with "reasonable
grounds" to believe cannabis is present in a vehicle may, without a
warrant, search that vehicle and any person found inside of it. This
power extends well beyond what might be necessary to ensure that the
person behind the wheel isn't driving while stoned and will also grant
free reign to water-side searches of cottage country pleasure boaters.

Medicinal users have it only marginally better and still face
restrictions on self-medicating in any enclosed public spaces. This
places Toronto in the bizarre situation of condoning the use of heroin
by opioid addicts at local safe injection sites while an arthritis
sufferer will be fined for dosing at a Leafs' game.

Smokers under Ontario's legal age of 19 will face fines of $200
implemented as a non-criminal provincial offence. This will leave many
young people with the mistaken impression that underage marijuana use
will net them nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

The interaction of a provincial ticket for illegal drug use and the
zero tolerance policies of U.S. immigration to narcotics violations,
have the potential to create a dangerous hidden consequence for
teenaged tokers. While few will lose sleep over the $200 fine, being
caught with pot could mean no spring break to Daytona Beach when
college rolls around and, worse yet, a shocking discovery that you
can't accept that six-figure Silicone Valley job you worked so hard to

The risk of such serious unintended consequences could result in
thousands of teenagers clogging our already glacial traffic courts
with marijuana tickets exacerbating the existing intolerable trial
delays inherent in that system.

But the real fun won't come in nickel-and-diming underage users and
public space smokers. That's reserved for individuals and corporations
who have the audacity to take on Ontario's new government cannabis

Illegal dispensaries, their employees, and even the landlords who
lease them space, face fines of up to $250,000 and two years in jail
for individuals. Corporate fines ring in at up to $500,000 per day.
With such astronomical penalties, perhaps the province is actually
hoping for serial violators to clear up our pesky record-setting debt.

Criminal defence lawyers such as myself are experiencing a natural
high secure in the anticipation of the impending litigation flood, but
Ontario's marijuana users could be forgiven for seeing their
leafy-eyed dreams go up in smoke.
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MAP posted-by: Matt