HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marijuana Possession Charges Dropped For 4,000 Canadians
Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2003
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2003, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Kim Lunman 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


OTTAWA - The Canadian government is making it a green Christmas for 4,000
people - it plans to stay thousands of charges of pot possession as a
result of legal battles over medicinal marijuana.

The decision will apply to every person in Canada charged with possession of
marijuana between July 31, 2001, and Oct. 7, 2003, Justice Department
spokeswoman Pascale Boulay said.

The Justice Department intends to cease prosecutions on the cases because of
a court ruling in 2000 that found medicinal-marijuana users had the right to
possess less than 30 grams of pot.

The judge delayed that ruling's effect for one year in the hope the federal
government would introduce a medicinal-marijuana law.

But the government did not. Instead, the Cabinet issued regulations for
access to medicinal marijuana one day before the yearlong grace period ended
in 2001.The Ontario ruling created a legal loophole, effectively
invalidating Canada's marijuana possession law as unconstitutional because
it failed to provide an exemption for medical use.

"We estimate there are about 4,000 pending files," Boulay said. However, she
said that criminal charges of marijuana possession will still be prosecuted
today as a result of the government's announcement yesterday that it will
not appeal the medicinal-marijuana case to the Supreme Court.

"It still constitutes an offense and (anyone caught with marijuana) would
face charges." The federal government recently introduced legislation to
decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Possession of marijuana now carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail
and a fine of up to $1,000.
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