Canadian Justice Minister Reaffirms Plans To Remove Criminal Penalties For Pot

Ottawa, Ontario: Justice Minister Martin Cauchon reaffirmed plans this week to act swiftly to remove criminal penalties on small amounts of marijuana.

“I will move ahead as quickly as I can” to implement the law change, Cauchon told the Canadian National Post.  Cauchon’s statements came just days after a MacClean’s Magazine poll revealed that 50 percent of Canadians support decriminalizing marijuana.

Support for decriminalization was fairly consistent among respondents of all ages, and was strongest among those earning more than $100,000.

Last month, Cauchon pledged to introduce legislation within the first four months of this year decriminalizing the possession and cultivation of up to 30 grams of marijuana.  His announcement came in response to the release of a Canadian House of Commons report concluding, “The consequences of conviction for possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use are disproportionate to the potential harm associated with the behavior,” and recommending decriminalization.

Recently however, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has indicated that Parliament must further debate decriminalization before acting on the House’s recommendation.  US officials responded that trade sanctions and increased security could be imposed along the US/Canadian border if Canada moves forward with decriminalization.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.