By Alfa · Sep 7, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa
    Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)

    Local lawyer requests that a provincial court judge postpone sentencing of
    individuals busted with 15 gams of pot or less

    A Provincial Court judge was asked to postpone sentencing individuals busted
    with small amounts of pot until Parliament resumes, in the event that the
    decriminalization bill gets the green light.

    "Simply this isn't a sound basis for an adjournment," Crown prosecutor Rob
    Brown told Judge R. Fabbro in Nelson Provincial Court on August 24.

    Brown's statement came after defense lawyer Don Skogstad asked Fabbro to
    postpone the sentencing of some of his clients until Parliament resumes
    sitting in October. This would enable them to see if the legislation on
    marijuana decriminalization of minor quantities passes.

    "This is a province that does charge people with under 15 grams, a
    surprising number of them," Skogstad told the Daily News, adding that at
    present he has a half-dozen cases where clients have been busted with 15
    grams of less.

    The local lawyer, who spends a substantial amount of time defending those
    with drug charges, said it would be benefit to both the courts, police and
    clients if Bill C-10 passes come October. Prime Minister Paul Martin has
    already indicated that the government is committed to reintroducing the
    legislation this fall.

    "There's no downside at all when you look at it," said Skogstad.

    (continued p. 6 - "Police tend to focus on grow ops")

    You don't get a record. They can't tell the Americans about it. You can't
    be put in jail. It's a set fine."

    At present, the best that those charged with possession of marijuana can do
    is get a discharge, said Skogstad.

    "It's not a record in Canada but it's available to the Americans," he

    Skogstad said he wasn't surprised to see Brown object to possibly postponing
    the sentencing of those charged with possession of small amounts of

    "The Crown is acting strictly to the policy of the Crown," he said. "They're
    not to adjourn for a change in law."

    Cst. Tom Clark, the RCMP's regional coordinator of the DARE (Drug Abuse
    Resistance Education) program, said he thinks the decriminalization bill, if
    passed, will send a "bad message" to kids.

    "As far as I'm concerned I don't like the message it sends to the kids
    because the kids are the ones we care about. Adults do whatever and we
    don't have much control over that," Clar
    k told the Daily News.

    "But for kids, I think it's just adding another vice to an already
    vice-ridden society. We've already got our skeletons in our closet and I
    don't see the necessity to add to it."

    Clark said he was "surprised" to hear that Skogstad has so many cases of
    clients being busted with less than 15 grams of weed.

    "I don't know anybody who would charge for that anymore," he said. "I know
    guys aren't cruising around the 7-11 trying to bust a kid with a joint.
    They just don't do that."

    Clark said because police are deciding more often not to charge those with
    under 15 grams, that's not to say they approve of its possession. They're
    just targeting other crimes such as grow ops.

    "The reality of it is the members have a finite amount of time and they have
    difficulty getting to all the grow op files," said the Mountie.

    "I was in downtown Vancouver for 15 years doing drug work and I never once
    went out of my way to jump some kid with a joint. There's just so many
    other big files out there that doing this is a waste of time. It's kind of
    funny that that's the perception of what we used to do.

    Under most circumstances, police generally won't bust people with small
    amounts of pot unless they are, for example, charged with another offense
    and a subsequent search of the accused turns up bud.

    "Certainly there's nobody out there wasting their time jumping people for
    small amounts of marijuana. The only time you'd really do that is if it's
    right in your face - and some characters do that. They're walking down
    Baker Street smoking a joint. If they were drinking beer people would be

    While Clark says the decriminalization of marijuana would send a poor
    message to youth, he feels it would make police officers jobs less complex.

    "It certainly would make life easier for the members," he said.

    The Liberal government will bring back Bill C-10, which died when the
    election was called. It already had received its first two readings.
    However, it will have to go through first reading again if it is

    According to the original bill, anyone caught with 15 grams of marijuana or
    less would receive a ticket instead of criminal charges. But those caught
    trafficking more than that amount would receive stiffer penalties.

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