HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Local Judge Won't Conduct Pot Possession Trials
Pubdate: Mon, 23 Dec 2002
Source: Sault Star, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 The Sault Star
Author: Linda Richardson


Greco Cites Case Challenging Law That Makes It Crime To Retain Small 
Amounts Of Marijuana

A Sault Ste. Marie judge is refusing to deal with possession of marijuana 
charges pending the outcome of a trial in southern Ontario.

Ontario Court Justice James Greco told lawyers in his court Friday he will 
not accept guilty pleas or conduct trials on simple possession.

"There is a question in my mind and other judges (not locally) whether 
provisions of the narcotics act are effective in the province of Ontario," 
he said.

Greco cited a case slated to be heard Dec. 27, which he said seems to have 
a legitimate argument that as of July 2001 the provisions of the act aren't 
applicable in Ontario.

Lawyer Brian McAllister is challenging the law that makes it a crime to 
possess small amounts of marijuana in a Windsor courtroom.

He is arguing that his 16-year-old client should be acquitted of possession 
because the law is invalid.

Earlier this month, Ontario Court Justice Douglas Phillips declined to hear 
the arguments, saying the offices of the provincial and federal attorneys 
general should be given more time to decide whether they will intervene.

Phillips said the challenge could have widespread repercussions if 
McAllister is successful. He said he would hear the arguments Dec. 27.

McAllister's challenge is based on a July 31, 2000 decision by the Ontario 
Court of Appeal striking down the federal law prohibiting the possession of 
less than 30 grams of marijuana.

The court found in the case of Terry Parker of Toronto that the law 
violated rights of sick people who use marijuana for medical reasons.

The federal government was given a year to revise the law.

Greco said Friday that Parliament has not moved to put in new legislation.

Wayne Chorney, senior federal prosecutor for drug cases in the Sault, says 
regulations have been passed that address the deficiency.

"This challenge (in Windsor) comes as a surprise because regulations 
already have been passed that address possession for medicinal purposes ," 
he said.

The issue is whether or not what has been done is sufficient, Chorney said.

"There is a chilling effect when judges of the court are not prepared to 
take pleas of guilt or trials," he said.

"I'll be interested to see what happens the first week of January," says 
Chorney who has a drug trial scheduled for Jan. 3.

With files from Canadian Press 
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