Canada: Federal Conservatives Seriously Considering De-Criminalizing Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

Update: see previous posts – December 15, 2013 Canada: To Generate Revenue Police Should Ticket, Not Arrest, December 2, 2013 Canada: Why Canada Banned Marijuana, September 30. 2013 Medical Marijuana: Harper Government Launching Billion-dollar Free Market, August 31, 2013 Marijuana: Conservative Government Studying Police Ticketing Proposal, August 22, 2013 Canadian Police Chiefs Propose Ticket System for Possession of Less than 30 Grams of Marijuana

Pot smokers, such as this woman, would face a ticket for possession of small amounts of the drug, under a policy being considered by the federal government. Photo by Mike Cassese Reuters files
Pot smokers, such as this woman, would face a ticket for possession of small amounts of the drug, under a policy being considered by the federal government. Photo by Mike Cassese Reuters files

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OTTAWA — Justice Minister Peter MacKay says draft legislation that would loosen federal marijuana laws is under “serious consideration.”

MacKay says the Conservatives are looking at whether to allow police officers to issue a ticket to anyone caught with small amounts of pot, rather than laying criminal charges.

The Federal government is seriously considering changing the laws that deal with possession of small amounts of pot and instead of charging someone with a criminal offence, which could result in a criminal record, instead issuing tickets for simple possession.
The Federal government is seriously considering changing the laws that deal with possession of small amounts of pot and instead of charging someone with a criminal offence, which could result in a criminal record, instead issuing tickets for simple possession.

He says the Justice Department will look into the issue and possibly present a draft bill, although any policy shift would stop short of decriminalizing marijuana.

Currently, under the Criminal Code, anyone convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can be jailed for up to five years, while first-time offenders can face fines up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

Canadian police chiefs have long called for laws that would ticket people for pot possession instead of laying charges.

Border Crossing (Rainbow Bridge) at Niagara Falls. The de-criminalization of small amounts of pot for personal use will stop border services from denying entry to Canadians who have been convicted of illegally possessing small amounts of marijuana which have led to criminal records under the Criminal Code and as a result, are denied entry into the U.S.A. and other countries.
Border Crossing (Rainbow Bridge) at Niagara Falls. The de-criminalization of small amounts of pot for personal use will stop border services from denying entry to Canadians who have been ticketed but not criminally convicted of illegally possessing small amounts of marijuana. Currently if someone is charged and convicted which leads to a criminal record under the Criminal Code and as a result, their freedoms are curtailed under section 6 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and border guards can legally deny them entry into the U.S.A. and other countries.

MacKay made the comments Wednesday following a weekend meeting with Vancouver’s police chief, who supports that approach, as well as other law enforcement officials.

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