Papers have conflicting visions of new pot law

CTV.ca News Staff
 
Updated: Sun. May. 11 2003 8:11 AM ET

Ottawa is expected to table its new marijuana law next week, and in the roll up to its introduction there are wildly different views of what it might contain.

In separate reports Saturday, the Toronto Star and National Post newspapers both suggested Ottawa might be backing off on plans to decriminalize marijuana, in light of the potential for a backlash at U.S. border crossings.

According to the Toronto Star, anyone convicted of possessing "small amounts" of the drug would be fined -- not jailed -- and would not be left with a criminal record. Simple possession would remain on the books as a criminal offence under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The Liberal government will propose tougher measures to target illegal marijuana growing operations, including the doubling of penalties for drug trafficking, sources told the paper.

It's a different story in the Globe and Mail, however. The paper reported Saturday that federal officials have settled on a 15-gram limit for personal possession. Anyone caught in possession of any quantity less than 15 grams would be ticketed and fined under the Contraventions Act.

Currently, anyone found with 30 grams or less can faces charges of common possession of the drug. Possession of more than that amount can mean prosecution for the intent to sell. Depending on how they are rolled, 15 grams of cannabis can produce about 20 joints.

The issue of decriminalization has already provoked a divisive debate. Many U.S. officials have expressed concerns about Canada's moves towards decriminalization, suggesting such a law would lead to interminable border delays. Some ministers have even argued in cabinet that the law would be another irritant in the relationship between Canada and the United States.



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