Pubdate: Sun, 12 Jan 2003
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Paul Blissett


Re: Marijuana ruling to be appealed, Jan. 4.

The federal Department of Justice is once again poised to waste Canadian 
tax resources and set public policy with its appeal of a court decision 
that rejected a simple marijuana possession charge in Windsor, Ont.

The current situation was completely predictable. As a result of earlier 
court rulings, the federal government was warned that failure to introduce 
new legislation within a year would result in the laws concerning marijuana 
possession being nullified.

The marijuana issue has been debated, discussed, studied and researched 
relentlessly. In recent years, our courts have accepted the evidence, 
expert testimony and the science concerning all aspects of marijuana use. 
The myths and arguments used by opponents of decriminalization or 
legalization have slowly but finally crumbled.

The news however, has apparently not reached the federal Department of 
Justice. The confusion lies between a statement by federal lawyer Jim 
Leising that the appeal (essentially seeking the status quo), is "in the 
public interest," and Justice Minister Martin Cauchon announcing his 
intention to introduce legislation to decriminalize marijuana.

The Supreme Court also noticed a conflict between the intent of the 
minister and other staff lawyers who were advancing the argument that 
marijuana is dangerous. That view certainly doesn't reflect research 
results, public opinion, media editorials, parliamentary committee findings 
or even, apparently, the view of the minister of justice.

It makes me nervous when public servants who draft legislation, participate 
in our justice system or enforce our laws are attempting to influence 
public opinion or revise study findings and conclusions on the subject. The 
Canadian public and parliament should, and ultimately will, make those 

The Justice Department should do what is rational and right -- namely, 
nothing. Let the issue die. It should, instead, expedite introduction of 
Mr. Cauchon's promised decriminalization legislation.

Paul Blissett

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