Canada: Parliament Likely To Adjourn Without Passing Pot Decrim Bill

Ottawa, ON: Parliament will likely adjourn next week without approving legislation that would make marijuana possession a fine-only offense, CTV News and the Canadian Press have reported. The bill (C-38), which seeks to reduce penalties on the possession and use of up to 15 grams (about half an ounce) of marijuana and/or one gram of cannabis resin to a ticketable offense, has languished in the House of Commons since May despite being backed by Justice Minister Martin Cauchon and Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Chretien is stepping down as Prime Minister at the end of the year, and it is unknown whether incoming PM Paul Martin will spearhead similar legislation.

Two Parliamentary select committees had previously endorsed liberalizing Canada’s pot laws. A Senate report called for the legalization and regulation of marijuana to those 16 years and older, while the House recommended Parliament decriminalize the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use by adults.

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre called Parliament’s failure to move C-38 disappointing. “Both the Senate and House select committees determined that criminal consequences for the possession of marijuana by adults are disproportionate to any potential harms associated with the responsible use of the drug,” he said. “It’s a shame that Parliament would let ‘Reefer Madness’ overshadow their committees’ recommendations and refuse to acknowledge the fact that greater harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by marijuana itself.”

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of The NORML Foundation, at (202) 483-8751.