Sibley: Now’s the Time to Stop Charging People with Pot Offences

Article by Marcus A. Sibley, Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa police make an arrest at a Cannabis Culture outlet in Ottawa in March. Sibley: Now's the time to stop charging people with pot offences

Bill C-45, also referred to as the Cannabis Act, outlines the federal government’s “robust regulatory framework” for legal marijuana. It makes several amendments to the Criminal Code, including provisions aimed at loosening penalties around possession and home cultivation (for personal use) as well as tightening laws that address impaired driving and youth access to marijuana.

Government officials did not comment this week on the specifics of how provinces will execute a distribution plan, how cannabis will be taxed, and what kinds of revenues are expected to be generated.

Yet despite the lack of specifics, the government has not wavered on its commitment to continue enforcing cannabis-related offences, upholding the position that the “law is the law” and rejecting the possibility of any moratorium on marijuana charges.

Despite this firm stance on continued criminalization, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the current regime of criminalizing cannabis an “abject failure.” The influx of marijuana-related offences not only clog our Canadian courts, they create a significant burden on local police departments, which spend a combined total of anywhere between $2 billion and $3 billion on enforcement. Yet Goodale wants to see the existing laws enforced until the bill passes.

 “As the bill moves through the legislative process, existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected” he said. “This must be an orderly transition; it is not a free-for-all.”

Read full article here.

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