Smoking Pot No Serious Risk, Vancouver Activist To Argue in Supreme Court
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Author: Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Sun
Contact: [email protected]
Vancouver marijuana activist David Malmo-Levine is scheduled to be in Ottawa todayto appear before a panel of Supreme Court of Canada judges in an attempt to strike down Canada's marijuana law.
He will argue that the law making it illegal to possess marijuana violates his constitutional rights because smoking pot does not pose a serious risk of harm to the user or society.
Two other companion cases -- one from B.C., the other from Ontario -- also will be heard as part of a constitutional challenge to Canada's marijuana laws.
It will be the first time the court has considered the constitutional validity of the law prohibiting possession of marijuana.
Six judges of appeal courts in B.C. and Ontario have already ruled that the possession and use of marijuana does not pose a serious risk to users or society. But the courts decided the issue was best left to Parliament.
The trio of appeals challenge Parliament's power to create such a law. The crucial question the court must answer: Is the harm of smoking or possessing marijuana sufficient to permit criminalization?
"We're trying to establish the limits of criminal law power," explained Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy, who will represent another B.C. man, Victor Eugene Caine, in the nation's highest court. Malmo-Levine and Caine take the position that the law against possession of marijuana violates their right to life, liberty and security of the person under Section 7 of the Charter.
Also to be heard will be the appeal of Christopher James Clay, a former operator of a hemp boutique in London, Ont., who was convicted in 1997 of possession and trafficking charges.
The appeals had been scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court last Dec. 13 but at the start of the hearing, after a brief discussion, the court decided to adjourn the appeals to the spring session to see if Parliament would decriminalize pot possession.
Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon has said Canada is about to change the marijuana law, possibly within months.
The court found the minister was sending conflicting messages at the same time as a lawyer representing the attorney-general of Canada was trying to convince the court that possession of pot should remain illegal.
The government still has not announced what it plans to do or how much pot a person could possess without the risk of getting a criminal record.
Related Articles & Web Site:
Cannabis News Canadian Links
Federal Government Defends Marijuana Laws
Supreme Court Pot Case Goes Ahead
Activist Wants Pot Legalized, Not Decriminalized
Supreme Court Will Hear Marijuana-Law Challenge