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CTV Newsnet: Judge refuses to convict on pot possession case, setting precedent 0:36
CTV News Staff
Simple possession of small amounts of marijuana may soon be legal in Canada following a decision by a judge in Windsor, Ont., to throw out possession charges against a 16-year-old boy.
Justice Douglas Phillips dropped the charge after defence lawyer Brian McAllister argued Ottawa had yet to address the question of simple possession stemming from a landmark case two years ago.
"My interpretation of the law - and (it?s) been accepted by the judge - is there?s no law in Ontario prohibiting possession of marijuana," McAllister said in an interview.
The ruling could spell the end of prohibition on possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, but McAllister said anyone possessing the drug could still be charged.
"I doubt police will stop charging people for the moment," he said.
"(But) from what I understand, there?s a number of other judges that have been awaiting this decision and have been holding off hearing other cases that involve the same issue, so it?s potentially persuasive on those courts."
The case of the Windsor-area teen, who can?t be named because he?s a minor, turned on a two-year-old decision in which the Ontario Court of Appeal sided with an epileptic marijuana user.
Terry Parker argued the law violated the rights of sick people using pot for medical reasons.
In response, the federal government did not change the laws, but instead enacted the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, intended to allow marijuana use for medical reasons under certain circumstances.
McAllister argued that the new regulations don?t satisfy the parker ruling, meaning the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act no longer prohibits marijuana possession.
"Parliament didn?t fix the problem in the right way," McAllister said. "They did it by way of regulations and the Court of Appeal (was) required to address the issues with some legislation."
The federal regulations that sprang from the Parker decision are also the subject of a constitutional challenge by a group of Toronto marijuana users who say their rights to choose their own form of medical treatment are being violated.
Joseph Neuberger, one of several lawyers involved in the Toronto case, said Thursday?s decision could be the beginning of the end of Canada?s possession laws.
"Because of the Parker decision, the government had to put in place a regime that allowed proper access for those who needed it for medical purposes," Neuberger said.
"The argument is the government never complied with that order ...that for simple possession, there really was no law."
However, McAllister noted it is still illegal to traffic and grow marijuana.
This marks a change in Canada's view of marijuana. It shows that the citizens tolerate usage and find nothing wrong with it. When Canada legalizes possession/usage of marijuana, it will open doors for many other countries, mainly the US.