Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Justice Minister Peter MacKay responds during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday May 14, 2014 . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

At the eleventh hour, Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice, is broaching the prospect of a marijuana bill that would verge on decriminalization. Well, better late than never. If such a bill were to become law, Canadian police would be able to ticket anyone smoking pot in public. But possession wouldn't necessarily be a crime.

Just as it is undesirable to have "open liquor," as Mr. MacKay has put it, the consumption of marijuana on public sidewalks ought to remain illegal. Scotch is legal, but we don't want people wandering the streets, drinking from a paper bag. Why not do likewise with marijuana?

It is a waste of the police's time to criminally charge people for possession of small amounts of marijuana, and the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs have said as much. But making a habit of pretending not to see pot-smoking in public is a bad thing, too.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. MacKay insists that his proposed ticketing scheme would not amount to either decriminalization or legalization. But surely it would mean de facto decriminalization – a good thing. The whole point is to ensure that, in future, there will be few prosecutions for simple possession.

The main obstacle for sensible ticketing legislation is the existing queue of eight justice bills already in Parliament or soon to be introduced. Mr. MacKay said it would have to be tabled within the next six months. It could, however, be a quite a short bill, less complex than others. And at least one of the government's justice bills, on prostitution, should be withdrawn and rethought entirely.

Passage of such a bill wouldn't be difficult. Thomas Mulcair and the NDP are already in favour of decriminalization. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals want to go further, with outright legalization of marijuana, but they could hardly oppose a step in that direction. With something approaching unanimity, the time is ripe.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies