CANADIAN POT LAW STRUCK DOWN
Ontario's highest court has given the government a year to rewrite the law so medical users can get their herb.
TORONTO—The highest court in the province of Ontario has struck down Canada's 77year-old pot possession law. In their unanimous decision in the case of medical user Terry Parker, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the law failed to consider the benefits of weed for conditions such as Parker’s epilepsy.
The ruling may aid recreational tokers as well as Ontario's thousands of medical users. Howeuer, pot-smokers won't be in the street or cafes just yet, as the federal gouernment has a year to either write a new law or let the judgment stand. "Rs a result of the failure to accommodate medical users, the law is ouerbroad,"
explains Osgoode Hall Law School professor Rian Young, who has been waging war in the courts since 1996. "The remedy this court thought was appropriate was to strike down the law entirely, instead of caruing out little exceptions for medical users. Knowing that striking down the law is fairly dramatic, they gaue Parliament twelue months to remedy the situation.”
Young, who was responsible for getting Canada's ban on HIGH TIMES lifted, says he "didn't expect the courts to do anything positiue,” but chose to go through them instead of doing traditional political lobbying because "there is a sad reality that the pot mouement is the most disjointed mouement Tue euer seen." This cleuer maneuuer has effectiuely forced the gouernment to deal with marijuana on a much stricter deadline than the proposed threeyear study by Senator Pierre Claude Nolm.
"What I'm expecting to see as the first response is a delay tactic. Obuiously that will be done by appealing the decision. I don't think the senators will be directed to deal with the marijuana issue in the next six months,” says Young.
The Department of Justice has yet to comment on the case, but an appeal would see the issue in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.
One of the major factors in the ruling
was that patients didn't haue access to marijuana, despite being giuen an exception to the Control Drug and Substance Ret. "They're busting growers," says Toronto Compassion Club founder UJarren Hitzig, who is now seruing an eight-month house-arrest sentence for possession. "It's the only part that doesn't make sense. The cops are doing euerythmg they can to shut down growers.”
Surprisingly, Toronto's conseruatiue police chief, Julian Fantmo, has publicly supported the idea of decriminalization. People caught with ¿ :-rH would be fined and forced to attend "Ma .^ana College,” where they would learn about the harmful nature of weed. Howeuer, the court ruled that "marijuana was relatiuely harmless."
If the gouernment opted to do nothing,
legalization could happen by default. While this might seem like stoner idealism, Young says that is what happened when the courts struck down Canada's abortion laws in 1980.
"This was a situation where Parliament was paralyzed to act, as abortion is something that diuides us deeply," he explains. "They didn't know how to deal with it without upsetting somebody. Yet they didn't want it to fall by the wayside. Here, they may want to let it fall by the wayside, because the public seems to want decriminalization. That may be a way the Canadian gouernment can appease the American zealots who would be extremely upset if Canada took constructiue measures [to change the law]. It would be easy for Canada to say, 'We didn't do it, our courts did it.' "