HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Supreme Court To Rule If Pot Law Constitutional
Pubdate: Fri, 16 Mar 2001
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Vancouver Sun
Section: Top Stories
Contact:  200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Author: Chad Skelton
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The Supreme Court Has Agreed To Hear An Appeal By Two B.C. Men Convicted Of 
Possessing Marijuana

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear the appeal of two Lower 
Mainland men who argue that the law against possession of marijuana is 

A lawyer for one of the men said the legal questions at the heart of the 
case are so significant that the way the court decides it could impact laws 
against other "victimless crimes," such as prostitution and gambling.

Last June, B.C.'s Court of Appeal upheld the law against marijuana 
possession in a 2-1 ruling involving Randy Caine of Langley and David 
Malmo-Levine of Vancouver.

On Thursday, the nation's top court agreed to hear the their appeal along 
with the case of Chris Clay, a former operator of a hemp boutique in 
London, Ont., who was convicted in 1997 of drug possession and trafficking 

"I'm euphoric and ecstatic," Malmo-Levine said Thursday, adding he believes 
the court will rule in his favour. "I have no doubt we're going to end the 
war on pot as soon as we get up there."

No date has not yet been set for the Supreme Court hearing.

Malmo-Levine and Caine argued before the Court of Appeal that the law 
against possession of marijuana violated their right to life, liberty and 
security of the person under Section 7 of the Charter.

The two argued that since marijuana use is not harmful, the government has 
no right to criminalize its possession.

"If Randy Caine wants to go off and smoke marijuana . . . how does that 
pose a risk to the public?" Caine's lawyer John Conroy said Thursday. "Why 
is it any business of the government?"

In their ruling last June, all three appeal court justices agreed marijuana 
use did not pose significant harm to society, but a majority ruled the law 
was still constitutional.

"I agree that the evidence shows that the risk posed by marijuana is not 
large," Justice Tom Braidwood wrote, with Justice Anne Rowles agreeing. 
"[But] I do not feel it is the role of the court to strike down the 
prohibition on the non-medical use of marijuana possession at this time. In 
the end, I have decided that such matters are best left to Parliament."

But in a dissenting judgment, Justice Jo-Anne Prowse found the law did 
violate the Charter.

"In my view, the evidence does not establish that simple possession of 
marijuana presents a reasoned risk of serious, substantial or significant 
harm to either the individual or society or others," she wrote.

If the top court accepts Caine and Malmo-Levine's argument, it could strike 
down the nation's marijuana laws.

"It goes way beyond possession and use of marijuana," Conroy said. "It 
involves a direct challenge to the powers of Parliament in relation to 
criminal law."

If the court finds the government can only pass laws against harmful 
conduct, Conroy said, other "victimless crimes" -- everything from 
prostitution to gambling to pornography -- could be challenged in the courts.
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