Michael Spratt, a criminal lawyer in Ottawa, released another great article on his website recently. This time he takes aim at the Liberal Government’s progress on Criminal Justice reform. (click here to read the article)
Let’s summarize what the Liberals have not accomplished on the justice front: marijuana is still illegal and the disproportionate arrest and prosecution of minorities continue unabated, minimum sentence remain unchanged, punitive parole and pardon legislation are seemingly set in stone, and modernization of the criminal code – not even a whisper.
The continued prosecution of Marijuana possession is complicating matters. Marijuana is still a controlled substance in Canada. Possessing a controlled substance is a crime under section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and marijuana is a Schedule II drug.
Possession of substance
4 (1) Except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III.
Defence lawyers are already making submissions to Judges that the Federal Government was elected, at least in part, on a promise to legalize marijuana. The problem is that there is no clear plan or schedule to get it done. In the meantime, the limited time and resources of the police, prosecution and the courts are being spent on marijuana possession.
The Federal Government has appointed Bill Blair, former police chief in Toronto to oversee the legalization process:
“The laws that currently exist, exist in this country and we are a … nation of laws,” Blair said. “Quite frankly, until those laws are repealed by Parliament through the appropriate processes, they should be upheld, they should be obeyed.” (click here to read this article in The Star)
Unless you have a medical prescription for marijuana, it is still illegal to possess it. Police are still arresting people and prosecutors are still prosecuting marijuana possession charges.