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  1. Alfa
    POT-POSSESSION CHARGES DOWN BY 30 PER CENT

    Police Looking Other Way Due To Confusion Over Canada's Marijuana Laws,
    Report Says

    OTTAWA -- The number of people charged with possession of cannabis
    fell by 30 per cent last year as police appeared to turn a blind eye
    to dope smokers due to uncertainty over Canada's pot laws, Statistics
    Canada reported yesterday.

    "This drop may have been, in part, a result of a climate of
    uncertainty among police, given recent court rulings questioning the
    constitutionality of current laws regarding cannabis possession," the
    study said.

    The drop in cannabis charges in 2003 contributed to an overall
    8-per-cent drop in drug prosecutions in Canada, the first such decline
    since 1993.

    Last week, Prime Minister Paul Martin said he plans to reintroduce
    legislation this fall that would decriminalize possession of small
    quantities of marijuana -- 15 grams or less. A bill to that effect
    died when the last election was called.

    Police were more likely to use discretion due to the proposed law in
    possession cases involving small amounts of pot, said Brian Miller,
    chief administrative officer for the Ontario Police
    Association.

    "For a while there, it was hard for us to get convictions because of
    the challenges in court," he said. "It's pretty rare for officers to
    charge first-time offenders in these cases. There's a lot of
    discretion involved."

    A total of 41,237 marijuana possession charges were reported last
    year. Cannabis possession accounts for nearly half of all reported
    drug crimes.

    The report also found that B.C. has the highest rate of drug crimes
    among the provinces for the past 20 years. It was the only province to
    show an increase (by 6 per cent) in reported drug charges in 2003,
    including a 3-per-cent hike in prosecutions of cannabis possession.

    Conservative justice critic Vic Toews criticized Ottawa for taking so
    long to move on its cannabis reform bill. He said it leaves law
    enforcement officers in limbo on how to proceed on marijuana
    possession cases involving small amounts as pot laws remain uncertain.

    "It results in unequal justice across the country," he said. "It's not
    consistent."

    Mr. Toews said the federal government must implement a national drug
    strategy if it proceeds with the bill to decriminalize marijuana possession.

    Yesterday's report follows a Statscan study released last week that
    showed the percentage of Canadians who have admitted using marijuana
    has
    almost doubled -- from 6.5 per cent to 12.2 per cent between 1989
    and 2002.

    The Liberal government wants to decriminalize possession of small
    amounts of marijuana and have the offences dealt with through tickets
    and fines instead of criminal charges. Supporters argue that simple
    possession cases take up too many resources that could be better used
    to fight more serious crimes and that the offence does not warrant a
    criminal record.


    Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)

Comments

  1. Alfa
    CANNABIS ARRESTS DOWN BY A THIRD

    Arrests for cannabis possession have dropped by a third in the five months
    since the drug law was relaxed in January, according to early estimates
    published by the Home Office yesterday.

    Ministers say the estimates show that 180,000 hours of police officer time
    will be saved in a year as a result of the reclassification of cannabis
    from a class B to class C drug.

    The change is intended to encourage police officers to confiscate the
    substance and issue an on-the-spot warning rather than make an arrest in
    cases of simple possession. The latest published figures show that as many
    as 97,000 people a year were being arrested for cannabis possession before
    the change.

    The Home Office also published British Crime Survey statistics suggesting
    that cannabis use among teenagers had started to decline for the first time.

    The figures show that just under 25% of 16- to 24-year-olds said they had
    tried cannabis during the 12 months to March 2004, compared with 28% in 1998.

    The Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "These are encouraging
    figures, but we are not complacent. The police are spending less time
    arresting people for possession of cannabis and filling in the paperwork
    that goes along with it.

    "This enables them to concentrate on class A drugs which cause most harm to
    society."

    The Home Office said it did not yet have detailed arrest figures for
    cannabis possession but had based the estimate on early returns from 26 of
    the 43 police forces in England and Wales outlining the trend in arrests
    between February and June this year compared with 2003.

    The claimed success for the change in Britain's drug laws comes as the
    European Union's "horizontal working party on drugs" proposed that
    ministers should ban internet sites that provide information on the
    cultivation and promotion of cannabis.

    At the initiative of the Swedish and Spanish governments the working group
    is pressing EU ministers to adopt a draft resolution on cannabis to tackle
    the use of the drug and the higher potency of some marijuana, and to
    introduce tougher international law enforcement against the trade.

    Its proposal to urge EU governments to take action against pro-cannabis
    internet sites has angered campaigners.

    The British Legalise Cannabis campaign said it acknowledged that the drug
    was not harmless, but was adamant its website provided information on
    cannabis rather than promoted its use.

    It said the proposal amounted to c
    ensorship, and suggested it could lead to
    the suppression of any website featuring a cannabis leaf.

    The EU group is influential because it reports directly to the council of
    ministers.

    Its draft resolution says cannabis is the illegal substance most commonly
    used in all the EU states, and is growing in popularity among young people
    in most of them.
  2. mycoguy
    in seattle, pot possession is the lowest priority for police. This pretty much means that J-walking is more important to them.
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