Michael Ford

Marijuana tickets a smart move

Allowing Canadian police officers to ticket people found with 30 grams of marijuana or less, instead of charging them with a crime, would represent a significant shift in the right direction towards decriminalization of the drug, says Toronto criminal lawyer Kevin Hunter.

Canada's police chiefs have passed a resolution asking for the change in the way the law is enforced, CTV reports, noting under the current system, a possession charge under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is laid.

“This is more in line with the current climate regarding casual drug use, specifically marijuana,” says Hunter, an associate with Edward H. Royle & Associates. “A ticketing option is the first step in eliminating the archaic categorization of marijuana use as a crime. It also reduces the legal and social stigma associated with criminal charges for an activity which is more socially acceptable than ever before.”

If introduced in Ontario, the move would provide “incalculable benefits” in terms of the proper allocation of social and legal resources, says Hunter.

“The court system, already saturated with criminal matters, would be alleviated of extremely minor matters which clog the trial dockets and justice sought for more deserving matters would be realized in a more timely fashion. Enforcement agencies would be able to devote their efforts on more important tasks, spending less time and money on trivial 'crimes' - a notion clearly within the scope of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.”

Hunter says not only would he like to see the issue studied in Ontario, but introduced as soon as possible.

“I would encourage our law enforcement agencies and politicians to act in accordance with the current social climate surrounding the casual use of marijuana,” he says.

“Now that heads of law enforcement agencies themselves are officially coming to this realization, it is 'high time' our laws reflect the attitude of a large portion, perhaps even a majority, of the Canadian population - a position for which I have long advocated.”

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