The Summer of Legalization Smoke-Out Tour: Halifax Update

Halifax Cops Acknowledge Cannabis Laws In Limbo!Good News! Marc Emery talks to Marijuana Man after his stop-over in Halifax for Marc’s Summer of Legalization Smoke-Out Tour. Marc was not arrested at the Halifax Police Headquarter’s 4:20 July 19th Smoke Out. Apparently, East Coast Cops are thus far acknowledging that there are currently no federal laws regarding the possesion of cannabis in Nova Scotia. The Tour Continues!

(If Marc is in jail on any of these dates, he won’t be able to appear, but we hope local activists will bring signs and rally on Marc’s behalf)

MONCTON, 4.00 p.m. Monday, July 21
Charlottetown, 4.00 p.m. Wed. July 23
St. John’s, NFLD. 4.00 p.m. Saturday, July 26
July 18, 2003

A smoke of a different kind

St. John’s Telegram

Newfoundlanders could be forgiven for wondering what they should do with their lighters this week.

Early on, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association held a news conference to urge the government to ban smoking in all public places, citing the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Then a day or so later, marijuana activist Marc Emery told The Telegram he’ll be in St. John’s July 26, when he’ll light up a very public joint on the steps of Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) headquarters.

It’s part of his cross-Canada tour of cop shops, designed to bring attention to this country’s pot laws, or lack of them, depending on which province you happen to be in when you flick your Bic.

Of course, Emery and the medical association aren’t really talking about the same issues, but it made for an interesting juxtaposition — those pushing government to ban the butt while another fights for the right to light up, albeit a smoke of a different sort.

And interesting juxtapositions surround marijuana right now, as Emery’s tour illustrates. He’s been arrested for lighting up a joint on police station steps in Winnipeg and Regina, but suffered no consequences — at least not of a legal nature — from doing the same in Toronto.

The Toronto cops’ live-and-let-draw attitude reflects the new reality in Ontario where provincial court judges have declared Canada’s pot laws invalid numerous times.

First came a 2000 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that found the law prohibiting marijuana was a violation of the Charter since it denied individuals who used pot for medicinal purposes a safe and legal way to obtain it. It gave the federal government a year to enact changes to the law to allow for legal distribution to those entitled to grass for medical reasons.

When government failed to pass the changes through Parliament, subsequent Ontario rulings found the law unconstitutional and have dismissed cases, leaving some Ontario police chiefs to say they are no longer certain of the drug’s status in law, and have told officers to stop making busts for possession under 30 grams.

With the law in limbo, officers simply seize the drugs and record details of the seizure, keeping the information on file for possible future charges, once the law is clarified.

The uncertainty has spread beyond the nation’s heartland, with judges in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island staying charges for simple possession, pointing to the confusion over the law.

Has the confusion spread to this province?

Well, consider this: asked if the RNC would arrest Emery should he spark a spliff on the station steps, Sgt. June Layden told The Telegram police haven’t decided: “We are evaluating what our choices will be, and we are having discussions with justice officials and management to see what avenues are available.

“We haven’t made any final decisions.”

For now, then, it seems the only one who knows what’s going to happen is Emery.

According to those who’ve tried the bud, he may find his perceptions somewhat altered, his sense of time a bit distorted, his focus centred on the unexpected — the colour of the sky, the texture of the bricks.

Others suggest he may become a bit confused. If that’s the case, he’ll have plenty of company.

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