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Feds File Notice To Appeal Over BC Judge’s Ruling

By Hempology | September 18, 2003

From the Canadian Press, September 18th, 2003

Vancouver — A B.C. provincial court judge’s ruling that the law governing marijuana possession is invalid will be appealed, a spokeswoman for the federal Justice Department said Thursday.

A notice to appeal has been filed, said Lyse Cantin, spokeswoman for the department’s B.C. region. Police and the B.C. solicitor general were quick to insist earlier this week the ruling does not make marijuana possession legal and is not binding on other judges.

Ironically, the appeal was celebrated by the B.C. Marijuana Party.

“That’s a good thing for everyone, I would think,” said spokesman Marc Emery, who stood outside Vancouver police headquarters Thursday and toked a cigar-sized joint at a “smoke-in” protest.

“It’ll be appealed to B.C. Supreme Court and they’ll rule in the favour of the judge,” he predicted, calling the Sept. 4 ruling “iron clad.”

“They’re not going to come to a different decision and that will be binding on all the judges in B.C., so that’s good.”

Emery said his group would continue to pass out copies of the ruling.

“Marijuana possession is legal in B.C., absolutely,” he said. “We’re telling everybody.”

In the ruling, Judge Patrick Chen wrote that, in his view, “Section 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as it applies to marijuana, ceased to be valid legislation after July 31, 2001.”‘

The date refers to the expiry of a one-year grace period set by an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling from 2000 that Chen referred to in his judgment.

The judge wrote that the Ontario decision “severed the marijuana possession prohibition from other parts of Section 4 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and declared it to be invalid, but suspended the declaration of invalidity for a period of one year ‘to provide Parliament with the opportunity to fill the void.’”

A spokeswoman for Vancouver’s police department said earlier this week she hadn’t heard of any fallout so far from the ruling.

Police ignored Emery and the group of marijuana advocates blowing smoke at their building Thursday. One officer who came out left, saying he couldn’t stand the smell.

New legislation was proposed earlier this year to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Recent court decisions in Ontario have struck down laws that made simple possession of cannabis a criminal offence. Law enforcement officials now are awaiting federal legislation that will define new laws governing pot.

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