HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Sanity In Haze Of Confusion
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Feb 2018
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Contact: http://www.ottawasun.com/letter-to-editor
Website: http://www.ottawasun.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/329
Page: 12

SANITY IN HAZE OF CONFUSION

An Ottawa judge who granted an absolute discharge to a 21-year-old
woman working at a marijuana dispensary has made the right call.

Yes, we believe in harsh penalties for criminals. Yes, people should
be held accountable for their actions.

But we also believe that the folks working the counter at illegal
marijuana dispensaries aren't the real bad guys.

It's the owners of these shops and the traffickers and street-level,
gun-toting dealers we're more concerned about: The people who are too
often escaping punishment.

In several months' time, government employees will be selling pot from
behind their own shop counters. They'll have good wages and benefits.

Should we throw the book at a store clerk for doing nearly identical
work? Surely, we've got bigger fish to fry in our courts.

The store clerks, or "budtenders", have made some dumb decisions here.
It's foolhardy to work at an illegal dispensary, risking a charge and
arrest that could hurt you for the rest of your life.

But let's ask for a little common sense from our judicial system.
After all, we rarely get it from our political one.

The federal Liberals have found their legalization legislation tied
up, likely pushing its rollout past the planned July 1 this year,
thanks to the Senate.

This means the grey zone that's flummoxing judges and police is going
to remain.

It's a headache for law enforcement, with an outgoing law still on the
books, and illegal shops here, there and everywhere flouting what law
there is and what law there will be.

We hope this delay is at least put to good use. It's important that
government get this legalization process right. The feds tries to push
their Canada Day date, presumably to score a headline-win with their
base. In doing so, they foisted most of the work onto the provinces.
We'd like to see this legalization handled responsibly and smartly by
the Province of Ontario.

In the meantime, confusion reins; just ask clerk Selena
Holder-Zirbser.

For taking a job at a pot shop for $12 an hour she's had the scare of
her life.

Justice Norman Boxall said in his sentencing decision this week that
to give her a criminal record would "fly in the face of justice and
the public interest."

A point well made. And, hopefully, a lesson learned.
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MAP posted-by: Matt