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Legalizing marijuana won’t extinguish black market, House committee hears

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s plan to have marijuana legalized by July 2018 won’t wipe out the black market for some time, and could come with other unintended consequences, the committee of MPs studying the legislation heard Monday.


Criminal lawyer Michael Spratt told the committee that Bill C-45 is “an unnecessary complex piece of legislation that leaves intact the criminalization of marijuana in too many circumstances.” For example, Spratt highlighted that under the proposed law, an 18-year-old who passes a joint to a 17-year-old friend would be breaking the law, as would an adult who lets their home-grown plant grow one centimetre taller than the law allows.

“This continued criminalization is inconsistent with a rational and evidence-based criminal justice policy and will only serve to reduce some of the positive impacts of this bill,” Spratt said.

Spratt also raised concerns over the constitutionality of ticketing provisions in the bill, which give police forces the ability to issue tickets for minor violations, like possessing just over the 30-gram legal limit.

The bill says that if the ticket is paid on time, the court record would be kept private, but not if the fine is not paid. Spratt says this disadvantages the poor.

“If you are poor and can’t pay a fine you are further stigmatized through a public record,” said Spratt.

“It’s quite likely that this ticketing provision in Bill C-45 will be found to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” he said.

Read the full article: CTV News

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