Mon, May 19, 2003
By MARIA McCLINTOCK
OTTAWA -- The federal government will create a higher demand and larger black market for pot with its proposed marijuana law, a former lawyer and marijuana activist said yesterday.
Rick Reimer, one of 600 Canadians given special status by the feds to legally smoke pot for medical reasons, also said the new law gives police too much discretion.
"What happens when you have a black market commodity and...you enormously increase the demand by decriminalizing it but simultaneously constrict the supply by making it far more dangerous, what you do is create an even worse black market," Reimer told Global's Ottawa Inside Out yesterday.
"(The police) will then be faced with a choice -- do we take this as a sign that marijuana is not really a big problem and therefore start turning more of a blind eye? Or, do we write a lot of $100 tickets.
"I'd like to think the police will do (the first), but I'm afraid that they're...going to write a lot of $100 tickets," said Reimer, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
The federal government was supposed to table its new pot laws last week.
That plan was derailed after Justice Minister Martin Cauchon went to Washington last week to meet with his U.S. counterpart John Ashcroft. Following that meeting, Cauchon has stalled his plans to bring the new law forward.
But reports say the government plans to decriminalize possession of 15 grams of pot, which will be punishable by a $100 ticket for teens, and $150 for adults.
Police will also be given more discretion when it comes to dealing with people caught with between 15 and 30 grams of pot.
For those who toke and drive there's a proposed $400 fine. But law enforcement
officials admit the smoking and driving issue is a tough one because there
are no tools, like the roadside breathalizer, to judge if a person is stoned
at the wheel, and how much they've smoked.
Copyright © 2003, CANOE