At a meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supported the ability of police officers to ticket people found with 30 grams of marijuana or less. The association said it would be more efficient and less expensive than laying formal charges.
With a judicial system that is overtaxed and a loosening of the general public’s negative view of marijuana, Canadian police might have the option of staying formal charges in lieu of a ticketing system. The ticketing system would be close to that given for drunk driving offenses.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay had no comment to the question posed to him, but did promise to look into it. As most politicians do, MacKay downplayed the issue and stressed that this does not mean marijuana will be legalized any time in the near future. The Canadian government’s view of marijuana is changing, but they have to tread lightly as to not inflame voters set against marijuana use.
“The political pitfall, if you embrace a law and order agenda, is that it seems very close to decriminalizing the possession of marijuana, which the Conservatives are on the record as opposing,” said Carissima Mathen, a Law Professor at the University of Ottawa.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who came out in favour of legalizing marijuana last summer, has indicated that the ticketing system is a good idea. Trudeau gained both scorn and praise from constituents after admitting that he had recently smoked marijuana. However, Trudeau did add that he is “a very rare user”.
Trudeau promotes legalization because, in his eyes, it would mean regulation and give authorities more opportunity to keep the drug from children. “We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a plan that is not keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens,” Trudeau said during a caucus retreat.
“Instead, (we’re) incarcerating and giving criminal records to hundreds of thousands of Canadians over the past few years in a way that’s not useful, in any way, in keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens.”
With a softening stance on medical cannabis and now a less terrifying ticketing system for small amounts of marijuana, the question of whether or not to decriminalize marijuana cannot be far behind. If the Liberals under Trudeau win a majority in the next election, the legalization and decriminalization question may come up and be pursued in a serious fashion.
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