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Feds may loosen pot laws: MacKay 0

Jessica Hume. (Andre Forget/QMI AGENCY)

By Jessica Hume, National Bureau

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay speaks during a discussion on a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights in Ottawa September 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay speaks during a discussion on a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights in Ottawa September 5, 2013. (REUTERS/Blair Gable)

OTTAWA - Potheads could soon be ticketed for indulging their vice rather than be criminally charged, after Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday the feds are looking to take a page from the police chiefs' book.

"We're not talking about decriminalization or legalization," MacKay told reporters. "What we are talking about is very much in line with what the chiefs of police have proposed."

The debate over pot laws got louder last summer when Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said a Liberal government would legalize the drug.

Though the Tories could never sell legalization to their base, draconian approaches to marijuana are generally ridiculed by the Canadian public.

MacKay stopped short of calling the possible fines a looser form of weed policy, but said it would give police more flexibility in handling individual cases.

"That is, giving the police further discretion when it comes to the treatment of small amounts of marijuana," MacKay said. "Criminal Code offences would still be available to police, but we would look at options that would give the police the ability, much like the treatment of open liquor, that would allow the police to ticket those types of offences."

MacKay said his party has "a lot of policing experience to call upon" and that Prime Minister Stephen Harper "has signalled an openness to this."

MacKay went on that "we have not yet arrived on the exact mechanism in which (this) could be done," but said he's met personally with police chiefs to discuss.

Medical marijuana activist Russell Barth believes ticketing would allow police to "cast a wider net."
He also said pricing of tickets could favour wealthier potheads and police will use it as a "cash grab."
 

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