Prince of Pot: Ontario Cannabis Laws Invalid?

In a much anticipated ruling, Justice Steve Rogin has today upheld the judgment of an Ontario court judge which dismissed a marihuana possession charge against a 16 year old youth. The Jauary 2, 2003 ruling of Justice Phillips of the Ontario Court of Justice received nationwide attention in finding that there was, effectively, no longer a valid law criminalizing the possession of marihuana. The Crown immediately appealed that decision. Since that time, hundreds of marihuana possession prosecutions in Ontario have been on hold awaiting the outcome of the appeal. Marc talks to Lawyer Brian McCallister who brought the case through the courts.
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Appeal Judge Agrees There Is No Law Prohibiting The Possession Of Marihuana

In a much anticipated ruling, Justice Steve Rogin has today upheld the judgment of an Ontario court judge which dismissed a marihuana possession charge against a 16 year old youth. The Jauary 2, 2003 ruling of Justice Phillips of the Ontario Court of Justice received nationwide attention in finding that there was, effectively, no longer a valid law criminalizing the possession of marihuana. The Crown immediately appealed that decision. Since that time, hundreds of marihuana possession prosecutions in Ontario have been on hold awaiting the outcome of the appeal.

Although other judges were not legally obligated to follow the decision of Justice Phillips, some judges in Ontario, P.E.I., and Nova Scotia chose to rely upon the decision in dismissing other marihuana possession cases. However, Justice Rogin’s decision is now binding on the courts in Onario before which marijuana possession cases are almost always heard. Justice Rogin’s decision has effectively erased the criminal prohibition on marijuana possession from the law books in Ontario.

The decision is also likely to have significant repercussions on the viability of marihuana prosecutions across the country. Cases in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia have already been placed on hold pending appeals of the dismissal of mrihuana possesion charges by provincial court judges in those provinces. While the decision of Justice Rogin is not binding in those (or other) provinces, it will likely have a strong persuasive effect.

Because this decision has now made clear that there is no law prohibiting the simple possession of marijuana in Ontario, it is incumbent on the police in Otnario to immediately stop arresting people for the possession of marihuana. Otherwise, the police will be arresting people for an activity which is no longer outlawed. Scarce police resources ought to be allocated to true crime prevention and law enforcement, instead of demonizing a relatively innocuous provate activity to which most Canadians do not object.

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