Pubdate: Fri, 23 Apr 1999
Source: London Free Press (Canada)
Copyright: 1999 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Roxanne Beaubien


A pitch by Canadian police chiefs to decriminalize simple pot
possession has the support of London police brass -- on one condition.

That the second prong of the proposal -- funding education, prevention
and drug treatment programs -- is also endorsed by the federal
government, Deputy Chief Brian Collins said yesterday.

But he says "decriminalizing" possession of small amounts of marijuana
and its derivatives, like hash and oil, is a far cry from legalizing
the illicit weed.

The board of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs has adopted a
policy that calls on Ottawa to give police the option of issuing a
ticket to someone caught with 30 grams or less, or requiring community
service, instead of laying a criminal charge.

Collins said making simple possession a ticketable offence, as opposed
to a criminal offence, would save the justice system money that could
be directed to higher level crime.

"It would allow a greater concentration on those who are abusing
people," meaning traffickers and producers, he said.

"It's not a knee-jerk reaction" to the current debate about legalizing
marijuana, he said.

"The key is the balance" between proactive programs and
decriminalizing the offence, Collins said. "They've made it a total

London police Chief Al Gramolini wasn't available for comment

Justice Minister Anne McLellan was described as receptive to the
proposal and said the government will consider it.
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