HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html In Canada, Marijuana Possession is Still Illegal
Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jul 2002
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Page: A11
Copyright: 2002, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Erin Anderssen
Bookmarks: (Cannabis - Canada) (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA -- As far as marijuana use goes, Canadian politicians have
until now proven more addicted to studying the issue than to passing
laws allowing citizens to more freely sample the famous B.C. bud.

In Canada, it is still a criminal offence to carry marijuana on your
person or hide it in your sock drawer. Get caught with up to 30 grams
of weed and you're looking at a criminal record and maximum penalties
of a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, though you would usually get
off with a far easier sentence from a provincial-court judge.

But polls have shown that about two-thirds of Canadians think the jail
option in sentencing should be dropped entirely, and a majority oppose
saddling those convicted of simple possession with a record. There are
about 1.5 million people with such convictions; marijuana possession
accounts for almost half the drug charges laid in Canada.

To reconcile this apparent gap between public policy and public
thinking, the politicians hold committee hearings and commission
research papers.

Currently, there are two parliamentary committees studying the
prospect of reforming the outright prohibition of marijuana.

In a recent discussion paper, the Senate committee seemed to be
leaning toward decriminalization, observing that marijuana use is not
proven to lead to harder drugs or crime and that, in fact, keeping it
illegal exposes young people -- the main users -- to criminal elements
and gives business to organized crime.

At the same time, Ottawa has pushed ahead to allow medical marijuana
use, handing out permission slips to several hundred terminally or
chronically ill Canadians. How they get it is up to them.

To date, despite busily growing in an abandoned Manitoba mine, the
federal plants are reportedly struggling with quality-control issues
and have yet to produce a single joint for public consumption.
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