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Pot Charges Adjourned in Alberta


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Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Author: Dan Singleton, For The Calgary Herald 
Published: Saturday, November 01, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Calgary Herald
Contact: [email protected]

Federal Crown prosecutors across Alberta have been instructed to allow adjournments of all cases of simple possession of marijuana laid over a two-year period ending Oct. 6, 2003, officials said Friday.

The instructions, made in light of recent Ontario Court of Appeal decisions, will affect thousands of outstanding cases, including some already set for trial, said Maureen McLellan, Prairie region spokeswoman for Justice Canada.

The new instructions were sent to all prosecutors and their agents this week, she said.

"Because of the uncertainty in light of these Ontario decisions if an accused wishes to adjourn his or her marijuana possession case until after Dec. 5, the Crown is willing to consent to an adjournment," said McLellan.

"It's up to the judge, but if the defence and the Crown both agree to an adjournment, generally the judge will adjourn the proceedings.

"If the accused still wishes to proceed with his or her matter, then of course the Crown is prepared to proceed."

Simple possession involves possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana or up to one gram of marijuana resin, she said.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Oct. 7 that between July 30, 2001 and Oct. 6, 2003, the law prohibiting possession of cannabis was constitutionally invalid as it did not contain a valid medical exemption.

The federal Department of Justice is reviewing those decisions and has 60 days, until Dec. 5, 2003, to launch an appeal.

On Thursday, Sue Kendall, chief federal Crown prosecutor with the Calgary office, said prosecutors in Calgary were dealing with possession cases for the period in question on an individual basis.

All Alberta prosecutors have now been issued new instructions, McLellan said Friday.

Prosecutors in the Red Deer district have been consenting to adjournments for the past three weeks, said Red Deer federal Crown prosecutor John Lee.

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