Article by Jaela Bernstien, CBC News
An activist group is encouraging people charged with marijuana-related offences to purposely clog up the courts, to punish the system for prosecuting them.
Quebec-based marijuana activist Ray Turmel says if the government is going to treat people like criminals for what he calls “peanut” offences, then he’s going to hit back the best way he knows how.
“What I’m doing is trying to bottleneck the court system and cost them a lot of money,” he says.
Turmel knows the Supreme Court’s Jordan ruling, which imposes deadlines to prevent unreasonable trial delays, is already forcing judges to stay proceedings for cases as serious as murder.
He’s using that to his advantage.
“Jury trials are very expensive. They take a lot of time. So now when the Jordan decision is impacting the court system in many ways, here I come to try to plug it up with marijuana cases.”
Turmel is advising roughly a dozen people across Quebec to use that strategy to fight their pot-related charges.
He’s also encouraging them to admit to the facts, but to fight their charges based on the 2015 Supreme Court Smith ruling, and if necessary to go as far as launching a constitutional challenge based on the landmark Terry Parker case.
The Parker case ultimately resulted in Canada creating its first formal system regulating the use of medical marijuana, after a judge found that forcing a person to choose between their health and imprisonment violated their rights.