Canada is embroiled in an ongoing debate about marijuana. Is it legal? Should it be legal? Will it be legal? How should it be policed?
As politicians debate the merits of legalization, those tasked with executing the law say the drug should still be illegal, but recommend more options on how to police it.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is asking for the right to ticket, instead of simply arrest, those found with less than 30 grams of marijuana.
Instead of legalization or decriminalization, they are focused on rationalization. How do you make a justice system work more smoothly, more efficiently for all evolved?
“The current process of sending all simple possession of cannabis cases under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) to criminal court is placing a significant burden on the entire
Justice system from an economic and resource utilization perspective,” CACP President Chief Const. Jim Chu said in a statement.
“The CACP is not in support of decriminalization or legalization of cannabis in Canada. It must be recognized, however, that under the current legislation the only enforcement option for police, when confronted with simple possession of cannabis, is either to turn a blind eye or lay charges. The latter ensures a lengthy and difficult process which, if proven guilty, results in a criminal conviction and criminal record.”
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Justice Minister Peter MacKay has maintained there is no intention to decriminalize marijuana. This doesn't really address the CACP recommendations, since they too are opposed to loosening the reins on the drug war.
CACP doesn't agree with legalization, or decriminalization, stating that it does not address the public safety issues associated with drug use.
Here are the key reasons why Canadian police forces would prefer a pot ticketing option:
- It expands their enforcement options without legalizing anything, meaning formal charges can still be laid.
- Ticketing pot users would clear backlogged court dockets, which would really help clear those other cases.
- Those who receive a ticket could be saved from having a criminal record, which can have an overly-harsh affect on one's ability to travel, obtain citizenship or secure employment.
Here are the key reasons why those caught with pot would prefer a ticketing option:
- No. 3 from above
- To secure an ironic and "bad ass" source of rolling paper.
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In defence of the police, the ticketing option seems to be a middle ground that would benefit the justice system. No, it won't satisfy legalization advocates, but it is as small step in the right direction.
It is a tacit acknowledgement that not all instances of pot possession are equal. Officers currently can either look the other way or bring the full weight of the criminal justice system down on a terrified drug dabbler.
Driving your car too fast is always illegal, but not all cases are treated the same. Drive in a school zone, or like you're an extra from The Fast and the Furious, and you get treated more harshly.
It's time to treat marijuana possession similarly.
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