Lawyers Expect Legalizing Cannabis Will Lead to More Arrests and Criminal Cases

Article by Canadian Press via iHeart Radio


McGill University law professor Daniel Weinstock says he heartily recommends his students take up criminal law in order to take advantage of the country’s new, strict cannabis laws.

“There is going to be a steady stream of customers,” Weinstock said, referring to the influx of people he estimates will be moving through the justice system.

The professor’s comments were partly made in jest but serve to illustrate a larger point: upcoming federal and provincial marijuana laws — in response to domestic and U.S. politics — will be a boon for lawyers.

Zero-tolerance policies will increase the incentive to contest charges, further clogging the justice system, lawyers say.

Moreover, citizens are likely to see increased zeal from politicians and police in order to avoid being perceived as soft on drugs.

“It seems like we are approaching a prohibitionist line around the edge of a policy that looks to be permissive,” Weinstock said.

Simple possession of marijuana will no longer be criminal, ostensibly freeing up space in the justice system, but lawyers say the current rules around cannabis aren’t strongly enforced.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has vowed to legalize marijuana by the summer and has left it to the provinces to create their own legal frameworks governing how cannabis is controlled and sold on their territories.

Quebec’s cannabis bill, for instance, is particularly restrictive. It prohibits citizens from growing their own plants, despite the federal bill granting the right to grow up to four.

Quebecers, like Ontarians, won’t be permitted to purchase cannabis from anyone other than their governments.

And people caught driving under the influence of marijuana in Quebec will also face a so-called “zero-tolerance principle.”

Under the bill as it is currently written, drivers will automatically lose their licence for at least 90 days if any amount of cannabis is detected in their saliva — regardless of whether the driver is actually impaired.

“You will have people found positive (for cannabis) who will have smoked a joint two days prior … the effect on the court system would be unimaginable,” Weinstock said.

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