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    LOOPHOLE CLEARS CRUSADER OF POT POSSESSION CHARGE

    REGINA -- A legal loophole has allowed a national cannabis crusader, who
    brazenly lit a marijuana pipe on the steps of the Regina police station, to
    avoid prosecution.

    The loophole has affected about 10 to 15 federal prosecutions in Regina,
    and an estimated 4,000 cases across Canada.

    Marc Emery, 45, is a well-known marijuana activist and dealer, leader of
    the B.C. Marijuana Party and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine.

    Emery pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing under 30 grams of the
    drug, stemming from a July 12, 2003, incident in which he lit a marijuana
    pipe on the steps of the Regina police station with several officers
    looking on.

    Emery, who has spearheaded similar protests across Canada, was arrested and
    spent seven hours in police cells.

    A stay of proceedings was declared on the charge against Emery because the
    simple possession section of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
    was ruled unconstitutional for a short period of time.

    "It's based on an Oct. 7, 2003, decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal,
    which said the regulations under the CDSA hadn't met the concerns that the
    Ontario courts had raised with respect to medical marijuana usage," said
    Regina lawyer Hal Wellsch, agent for the federal Crown.

    An Ontario Superior Court judge had ruled there was no current ban on
    simple possession of marijuana in Ontario because the federal government
    failed to comply with an earlier court order to make medical marijuana
    available.

    As a result, Wellsch said the Ontario Court of Appeal declared that from
    July 2001 to Oct. 7 the simple possession of marijuana section was in
    breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal government didn't
    appeal the ruling.

    "Therefore, those charges (against Emery) were not valid . . . that's the
    ruling we're going by," Wellsch said.

    Since then, the simple possession charge has been clarified.

    "The Ontario Court of Appeal effectively made changes to the regulations
    judicially, which then re-instated the validity of charges after (Oct. 7),"
    Wellsch said.

    Emery, who lives in Vancouver and sells marijuana seeds through his
    website, could not be reached for comment Monday.

    Wellsch said the charge against Emery could be brought back within a year,
    but that's unlikely to happen. He added he's not disappointed by the
    outcome of events in the case against Emery. "That's the way it goes."

    As for the Regina police, officers will continue to enforce the current
    marijuana law until there's a change, said spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich.

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