National Post: Judges question simple marijuana possession cases as legality remains in limbo

Below is an excerpt from a National Post article, which can be found here.

OTTAWA — Some criminal trial judges are questioning why people continue to be prosecuted for simple possession of marijuana while the Liberal government moves to legalize the narcotic, the country’s most senior prosecutors told parliamentarians Thursday.

The House of Commons justice committee heard that one magistrate is even considering whether to continue with a simple-possession case before the court given the Liberal’s promise to turn pot consumption into a legal, regulated recreational activity.

In the meantime, the federal government is spending upwards of $4 million a year prosecuting those caught with small, personal stashes of the drug, the committee was told. Tens of millions more is spent on police, jail and court costs. In 2014 alone, 22,000 people were charged with marijuana-related crimes.

The government has not announced a timetable for when it intends to introduce its reform legislation and growing public uncertainty over the state of law is clearly frustrating police and others.

“People in my community, I’m talking the police and others, they don’t know what’s going on,” NDP MP committee member and health critic Murray Rankin said Thursday.

“These people have talked about reform, why can’t they decriminalize in the near term, why can’t they show us a road map of where we’re going in marijuana?”