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
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
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
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),"
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.