Source: NORML weekly news
Reform Party, Canada's Top Cops Back
Removing Criminal Pot Penalties
April 29, 1999, Ottawa, Ontario:
Member of Parliament Keith
(Reform Party-Esquimalt) introduced legislation in the House of Commons
Monday to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession. The bill,
C-503, mimics a position adopted last week by the Canadian Association of
Police Chiefs recommending marijuana offenders be fined, but no longer
"Canadian law enforcement officers and some MPs aptly realize that
otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana are not part of the
crime problem and should not be treated like criminals," NORML Executive
Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said. He noted that the proposed law is
similar to those of ten U.S. states that treat marijuana possession as a
fine-only offense. Ticketed offenders would not have to go through the
court system, or be booked by police under Martin's proposal.
Martin told the House that fining marijuana smokers would generate
funding for drug prevention and education programs.
Barry King, who heads the CAPC's drug abuse committee, said
decriminalization would free up judicial resources and allow police to
focus on more serious crimes. "This isn't legalization; it's
decriminalization," he said. "This is a balanced approach."
While Canadian police support relaxing the marijuana laws, one
anonymous senior law enforcement official told reporters at The National
Post that pressure from U.S. officials may cause MPs to reject the
proposal. "I wonder how they [the U.S.] will react to know that the
federal government is contemplating decriminalizing [marijuana]
possession," he said. "I suspect they would be somewhat pissed."
For more information, please contact either R. Keith Stroup or
Armentano of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.
A transcript of MP Keith Martin's
statements to the House are available online at:
NORML Weekly Press Release
1001 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036