The Prince of Pot, Patron of the Rebellious Arts and publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, Marc Emery, continues his “Summer of Legalization” tour as it becomes our “Winter of Discontent.”
Emery declared his ‘Summer of Legalization’ tour to demonstrate that marijuana possession was legal in Canada due to recent Ontario court decisions — also upheld in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia — that declared pot laws to be invalid. He reasoned that if marijuana possession laws were struck in Ontario Courts, the decision would effect the entire country since drug possession laws are in fact Federal.
The legal saga began in July of 2000 when med pot user Terry Parker’s case came before the Ontario Court of Appeal (CC Online, Ontario Supreme Court rules in favour of medical pot.) Judge Rosenberg ruled in the Parker case the that the CDSA’s pot possession laws were unconstitutional, but delayed the section’s repeal for one year, giving the government time to change the law.
Instead of changing the law, the Federal Government introduced new med pot regulations in April of 2001. These new regulations made marijuana even harder for medical users to access while at the same time were used as an excuse to raid the Montreal Compassion Club (CC #32, Med-pot madness in Canada.)
However, Ontario Provincial Court Judge Phillips decided in January of 2003 that regulations were not enough and ruled in favour of the Montreal Compassion Club (CC Online, Judge throws out pot law.) Regulations can be changed easily by the cabinet, said the judge, unlike laws which require a democratic vote by parliament. His ruling effectively struck down laws against possession in Ontario.
On January 2, 2003, lawyer Brian McAllister, representing a 16-year-old allegedly caught with five grams of pot, successfully argued that Canada’s marijuana laws were invalid because of the Terry Parker case. In the Parker case, Ontario’s highest court ruled that Canada’s law against marijuana was too restrictive, and the judge gave Parliament one year to rewrite the law to accommodate med-pot usage, or else pot-possession prohibition would be erased from the Criminal Code. The government didn’t comply with the court’s demand, said lawyer McAllister, because instead of changing the laws, government officials just made new regulations, the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR), to be precise.
Provincial Court Justice Phillips agreed. In his decision he explained why the distinction between laws and regulations is important. Regulations are made by cabinet, can be changed at a whim, and are no better than the old system which saw the Minister of Health – a member of the cabinet – making decisions about exemptions personally.
When recent court decisions in Ontario, P.E.I., Nova Scotia and B.C. upheld the Phillips’ decision, Emery realized that laws against marijuana possession were in fact defunct, invalid and non-existent and set out to let Canadians know.
Emery’s 19 city smoke out cost him court cases in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina, St. Johns and Moncton, where he was arrested by police and charged, though he sees each of these court cases as a golden opportunity. “I’ve hired Ontario lawyer Brian McAllister to help me prepare for them, since he won the court case that overturned prohibition in the first place” said Emery.
When McAllister’s case was appealed to the Ontario Supreme Court, Justice Rogin ruled that pot possession laws where utterly wiped out at the one-year Parker deadline on July 31, 2001, and needed to be reenacted by the government but Ontario’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, crashed the multi-province pot party ruling that no reenactment of the laws was necessary.
By lumping together appeals to a decision involving an unnamed young offender, which confirmed pot possession was legal in Ontario; the Hitzig decision, which declared medical marijuana access regulations (MMAR) unconstitutional; and a claim by Parker and Turmel that marijuana laws are genocidal, the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that possession in Ontario is illegal and though the government had dragged its feet by not meeting its one year deadline in Parker, the court dismissed the striking down of possession laws as an “overly broad” remedy to the issue of sick people getting their medicine.
The new so-called “decriminalization” law, Bill C-38, is another step backwards, effectively recriminalizing possession after a period where no law officially existed. Despite government claims, Bill C-38 does not stop giving criminal records to Canadians for small possession offences and actually includes provisions to double jail time for convicted growers (CC Online, Biggest threat to pot-lovers’ freedoms since prohibition.)
Canadians in the provinces of B.C., P.E.I. and Nova Scotia may be still somewhat protected by the immunities afforded in their provinces, but judges there might also decide to follow this most recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeals, leading to a series of skirmishes in courts around the country.
Marc has his work set out for him and has posted his court appearances and speaking engagements on the popular Cannabis Culture forums so that so that his supporters across the country, many of whom he met on the tour, will again be able to rally around him.
ST. JOHN’S, NFLD., – November 17, not important court appearance but I will be SPEAKING
CALGARY – DECEMBER 6 – SPEAKING APPEARANCE after 5 day Grant Kreiger trial
EDMONTON – December 19 – trial date & SPEAKING APPEARANCE
REGINA – January 12 – trial date. Also speaking at local hall. Promotion by Head to Head Novelties.
SASKATOON – January 14 – SPEAKING appearance
YORKTON, SASK – January 16 – Speaking appearance
DAUPHIN, Manitoba – January 17 – Speaking appearance
WINNIPEG – January 22 – court appearance & Speaking Engagement
MONCTON – January 29 – trial and SPEAKING APPEARANCE
CROSS-CANADA TOUR April – June 2004, 5-week tour
Calgary – May 2004 – trial & Speaking Engagement
There will be additional speaking dates in Toronto, Windsor, and other Canadian cities. Mark Boris St. Maurice (Leader of the Canadian Marijuana Party) and Emery will be also touring Canada on a bus during the upcoming Federal election, speaking in two or three cities every day before and during the campaign in order to drum up support for the Canadian Marijuana Party candidates and campaigns.
Updates on Marc’s itinerary may be found under Current News and Events on the Cannabis Culture forums or click here.
Click here for the Summer of Legalization Tour archives.