Canada's laws making the possession of small amounts of marijuana illegal do not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's top court has ruled.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 6-3 Tuesday that jailing someone with small
amounts is constitutional and that any changes to the law must be made by
David Malmo-Levine's lawyers
argued for legalization.
"We conclude that it is within Parliament's legislative jurisdiction to
criminalize the possession of marijuana, should it choose to do so," said the
judgment, co-written by justices Charles Gonthier and Ian Binnie.
"Equally, it is open to Parliament to decriminalize or otherwise modify any
aspect of the marijuana laws that it no longer considers to be good public
The decision comes as Ottawa prepares to reintroduce legislation that would
decriminalize the possession of marijuana in small amounts.
Three B.C. marijuana users had challenged sections of the country's Narcotics
Act that makes possession a criminal offence.
The three men Chris Clay, Victor Caine and David Malmo-Levine say that
jailing someone for a harmless activity violates the Charter of Rights that
guarantees life, liberty and security of the person.
Lawyers argued that the government has no right to tell people what they can
put in their bodies.
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"Before you can make something part of the criminal law, you really should
have some objective evidence that the conduct is harmful," said Andrew Lokan, of
the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
"There really shouldn't be a victimless crime."
But lawyers for the federal government countered that the law should be
upheld and that Parliament should set drug policy for the country.
They challenged the assertion that the effects of marijuana are benign with a
report that connects use to a number of problems including driving accidents,
psychiatric disorders and drug addiction.
Malmo-Levine called it a "brutal day" for Canadians, pointing to all the
police resources being used to find and prosecute marijuana growers and smokers.
"They can't find all those missing women in Vancouver, but they have a growth
squad to go after all those gardeners," he said in an interview on CBC's
Prime Minister Paul Martin said last week that the government will
reintroduce a marijuana bill that died in November when Parliament was
The bill would decriminalize the activity, which means people caught with
small amounts would face fines rather than prison.
Written by CBC News Online