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Tories mull more relaxed pot laws

The penalty for getting busted for small amounts of marijuana may be less harsh in the future. - File
The penalty for getting busted for small amounts of marijuana may be less harsh in the future.
— image credit: File

Looser marijuana possession rules could be on the horizon. The federal government is considering letting police issue a ticket to anyone caught with small amounts of pot, rather than laying criminal charges.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wedneday that draft legislation that would loosen federal marijuana laws is under "serious consideration.''

A growing number of Conservative caucus members have come out in support of changing the current laws, including Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks, a former police officer himself.

"The Canadian Chiefs of Police and other police associations have said for some time now that our marijuana laws, with regards to small amounts, are not working," Wilks told the Townsman Wednesday. "It's dysfunctional in the courts and we need to find a better process."

"The Canadian Chiefs of Police came forward with the potential for a ticketing regime. That seems to me as a police officer who dealt a lot with the drug trade that it's a reasonable compromise that I think would work well."

Currently, a person found guilty of possession of small amounts of marijuana could be jailed up to five years. A first-time offender could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to six months in jail.

"I'm looking forward to modernizing our drug laws, especially with regards to simple possession," said Wilks. "I believe that it's a long time overdue, and it will work well. If it should move forward I should be happy to support it."

"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," MacKay said Wednesday.

"The Criminal Code would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would ... allow police to ticket those types of offences."

With files from Canadian Press

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