Canada Despite looming legalization, cannabis possession charges remain a reality

15:41  17 may  2018
15:41  17 may  2018 Source:   cbc.ca

Ontario police sound alarm over pot legalization

  Ontario police sound alarm over pot legalization Ontario's chiefs of police are saying federal funding for police operations may not go far enough to cover increased costs once recreational cannabis is legalized.At a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday, Ontario Provincial Police Chief Supt. Chuck Cox says it's not yet clear how legalization will affect day-to-day operations for police services.

Last year, over 5,000 people in Canada faced prosecution for cannabis possession , and over 1,000 people were brought up on trafficking-related charges as well. In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Goodale said that the legalization of cannabis will not include amnesty for past pot convictions.

Despite the Liberal government’s plan to legalize marijuana possession next July, the drug’s possession remains illegal. But while the law is still in place, police officers have a discretion not to lay charges , a senior officer with the Calgary Police Service said. Staff Sgt.

An Edmonton man says a recent cannabis possession charge has put his business in jeopardy and left him frustrated with the state of the justice system in advance of legalization.

Roman Lyubashenko said he was cruising the Anthony Henday Drive the morning of March 14 when he was pulled over by a Sherwood Park RCMP officer for having tinted windows.

While speaking with him, the officer noticed cannabis residue on his centre console. The officer asked him if he had a medicinal licence or any cannabis in the vehicle. Lyubashenko, who said he doesn't smoke marijuana but has friends who do, told the officer he wasn't sure. The officer arrested him, Lyubashenko said.

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Despite widespread succes of state-level legalization laws, Black and Latinx people remain disproportionate victims of racial profiling and over policing. In Colorado, which approved a marijuana legalization measure in 2012, cannabis possession charges plummeted 88 percent—from 9,130 to

Montreal and Quebec police aren't scaling back cannabis -related charges as legalization looms . Marijuana possession charges are declining in most of Canada — but not in Quebec. More serious charges of trafficking were also down, while production and importation charges remained flat but

While Lyubashenko was in the back of the police cruiser, the officer found a small bag of cannabis in his car. He was charged with possession of marijuana under 30 grams, and released on a promise to appear in court.

At the time, Lyubashenko thought it was a joke.

"I was calm.," he said. "I was sure that it was funny, due to the circumstances, how it's going to be legalized. I thought it was a silly situation. But now I have to go to court. And [a] chance of getting a criminal record for something that is so common in this country."

Lyubashenko said the amount of cannabis found in his vehicle was less than two grams, and he never thought someone could potentially get a criminal record for possessing such a small amount, especially when the drug is expected to be legalized as early as this summer.

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Marijuana, or cannabis , is the most widely used illegal drug or controlled substance in the United States. At any given time, people are rallying for the complete legalization , decriminalization, or at the very least, medical marijuana laws. Despite this, it remains a very common criminal charge .

As Quebec approaches cannabis legalization , that habit is once more evident. Quebec is the only province in which charges for cannabis possession and trafficking have actually continued rising in recent years.

He is starting up a custom car styling business and is concerned the charge could result in a criminal record, which would jeopardize his ability to travel to the U.S. for trade shows to boost his business.

The cannabis found in Lyubashenko's car, pictured in the silver pouch.© Supplied/Roman Lyubashenko The cannabis found in Lyubashenko's car, pictured in the silver pouch.

'It is still illegal'

RCMP Cpl. Laurel Scott said despite the impending legislation, the law remains clear.

"It is still illegal to possess marijuana," she said.

"Our job is not to question, anticipate legislation, anything like that. It's just to say, 'What is the current legislation? Do we have the grounds and authority to lay these charges? The answer is yes."

In a statement to CBC News, the Edmonton Police Service confirmed it continues to enforce cannabis-related laws, and that its enforcement practices will change once legalization happens.

The fact that possession charges continue to be laid by police is a frustrating and confusing reality for those charged, and for legal professionals who deal with them.

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Despite the government’s clear intention to legalize marijuana by July, 55,000 cannabis -related Of those arrested, 23,329 were charged ; the overwhelming majority of which were for possession . Among the top officials chosen to lead the legalization charge is Bill Blair, the former Toronto police

The number of court filings over marijuana-related charges had decreased even further. But on Dec. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is known for viewing cannabis legalization unfavorably. In March, a bipartisan group of senators urged the attorney general to stick with remaining policies, and

Edmonton criminal defence lawyer Brian Hurley said the penalty for possessing a small amount of cannabis is typically a fine. But it's still a criminal charge, and a conviction leads to a permanent criminal record. A criminal record can impact job prospects and prohibit someone from travelling to many countries, including the United States.

a close up of a newspaper: Lyubashenko was charged with possession of marijuana under 30 grams, and released on a promise to appear in court.© Supplied/Roman Lyubashenko Lyubashenko was charged with possession of marijuana under 30 grams, and released on a promise to appear in court.

Alberta has a high rate of prosecution for simple possession compared to the rest of the country, Hurley said. In his practice, he said he has seen no significant decline in the number of possession charges laid since the government announced impending legalization.

"How law enforcement chooses to spend their dollar and enforce laws is sometimes a little curious," he said. "And this marijuana thing is certainly very curious."

Once cannabis is legalized, questions remain around whether criminal records for possession will be wiped, Hurley said.

Hurley's advice for anyone charged recently with cannabis possession is to ensure their case goes to trial.

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Every minute in the United States, someone gets arrested for cannabis possessions . Here's what you should you do if you're unlucky enough to be caught.

Despite legalization on the horizon, organizers of the annual Vancouver 4/20 cannabis rally say Mark van Manen / PNG. Magnuson said 4/20 will remain a “protestival” until cannabis users can Larsen slammed the federal government for allowing ongoing dispensary raids and possession

"Your trial will be after July 1, and hopefully after legalization, whenever that occurs," he said. "You would have a very strong argument that if this conduct is now legal, you can't be punished for something that is now legal."

Lyubashenko is due to appear in court on June 6.

He said at this point the justice system should be focused on punishing distributors instead of users.

"It makes me feel like the justice system is inefficient," he said.

"I'm going to let it be. If they think that it's fair for me to get a criminal record for a gram and a half of weed, they can do it."

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