Newsbrief: Canadian Government to Appeal BC Marijuana Legalization Ruling 9/26/03

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The Canadian federal justice department will appeal a British Columbia provincial court judge's ruling that there is no valid law against marijuana possession in the province (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/303/bccourt.shtml). The September 4 ruling by Judge Patrick Chen followed similar rulings by courts in three other Canadian provinces, but unlike the Ontario ruling in particular, which was made by the highest court in the province, Chen's ruling is not binding on other BC judges. Neither do BC prosecutors and police consider the law to be invalidated at this point, also unlike Ontario, where police have conceded they have no power to arrest simple pot possessors.

Lyse Cantin, the federal justice department's BC spokesperson, announced September 18 that prosecutors have filed a notice of appeal. That news was greeting warmly by BC Marijuana Party (http://www.bcmarijuanaparty.org) head Mark Emery, who told the Vancouver Sun Chen would prevail. "That's a good thing for everyone, I would think. It'll be appealed to BC's Supreme Court and they'll rule in the favor of the judge." Chen's ruling, he said, was "ironclad."

All of the provincial court rulings vacating marijuana possession laws stem from a 2000 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling holding the marijuana laws invalid because they failed to provide for medical users and giving parliament a year to act. It didn't, and the courts did. Chen is the latest jurist to agree that "Section 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as it applies to marijuana, ceased to be valid legislation after July 31, 2001."

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