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Canada's top court to consider pot laws

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Source: The Halifax Herald Limited By Sue Bailey / The Canadian Press

Ottawa - Marijuana users who claim the drug is harmless will have their chance to sway Canada's top judges on Dec. 13 - a Friday.

Lawyers for three convicted pot smokers will argue that a federal law banning possession of the fiercely debated herb for personal use is unconstitutional.

The much anticipated case was among 36 listed Wednesday by the Supreme Court of Canada in its busy fall docket, which begins Sept. 30.

The schedule was announced the same day a Senate committee studying the issue said pot and hashish possession should be legalized for residents 16 or older, and regulated much like alcohol.

Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said the Senate committee recommendations would be considered and that related laws are outdated. But the government won't disclose its next move before early next year, he added.

Ottawa has said it will start clinical trials as early as this fall to assess the benefits of medical marijuana.

The high court ruling on pot laws won't likely come until several months after its December hearing.

The appeal covers three cases involving Chris Clay of London, Ont., David Malmo-Levine of Vancouver and Victor Eugene Caine of Langley, B.C.

All three men argue that pot, if properly grown and used, is harmless. Moreover, they say, laws prohibiting its personal use infringe the right to life, liberty and security of the person guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Clay, the former operator of a hemp boutique in London, Ont., was convicted in 1997 of drug possession and trafficking for selling cannabis to an undercover police officer.

He failed to convince the trial judge that private, recreational pot smoking qualifies as a fundamental value protected under the charter. The judge also noted that cannabis is not completely harmless for all users.

Clay lost on appeal.

In June 2000, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 to uphold marijuana possession convictions against Malmo-Levine and Caine.

Dissenting Justice Jo-Ann Prowse said part of the law banning pot possession did breach the men's right to life, liberty and security of the person. She said she would have adjourned the appeal to allow lawyers to make more submissions on whether the breach is justifiable.

The high court is also set to weigh Dec. 4 whether a British Columbia man has the right to have his triplet sons bear his last name.

Darrell Trociuk was crushed when the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled 2-1 in May 2001 that a portion of the Vital Statistics Act gives mothers sole power to name their children.

Trociuk and his former girlfriend, the triplets' mother, are now separated.

The omission of his name on the children's birth registration is an infringement of guaranteed equality rights, his lawyer will argue.

And on Oct. 9, the top court will consider whether a Quebec man should be forced to provide a DNA sample to prove the paternity of a child born in 1983. He denies being the father.

It will be the first time the high court has assessed the ordering of DNA samples in a civil matter.

The Supreme Court fall session includes seven criminal law cases; six administrative law cases; five civil law matters and four new charter cases.
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WARNING/DISCLAIMER The OZ Stoners cannabis community contains information regarding cannabis & other drugs; it is designed for mature (18+) audiences only. This site in no way condones the use of cannabis by minors. The content here within this cannabis community is for educational & entertainment purposes only. Any buying/selling or trading of illegal cannabis seeds, clones, flowers, resin or oil is strictly prohibited within this cannabis community.