Cannabis Activists Are Intentionally Clogging Canadian Courts

Although Canada is set to legalize adult-use cannabis by July 2018, many political activists and marijuana lovers in the Great White North believe the framework is still far too strict.

The harsh new penalties related to the proposed marijuana legislation have inspired at least one Quebec-based political activist to fight back.

The self-proclaimed “warrior for marijuana,” Ray Turmel, has seen more than his share of courtroom appearances, and is now encouraging people who are charged with marijuana offences to intentionally clog the Canadian court system. The alleged offenders are being told by Turmel to fight, appeal, and delay their charges through whatever means necessary.

Turmel is taking advantage of a July 2016 Supreme Court ruling that forces the justice system to try an accused person within a 30-month time frame, or risk the charges being stayed. That decision has caused stay proceedings for various trials with charges as serious as murder.

“What I’m doing is trying to bottleneck the court system and cost them a lot of money,” said Turmel in an interview with the CBC. “[This]  decision is impacting the court system in many ways, here I come to try to plug it up with marijuana cases.”

The outspoken activist is hoping that if the justice system is constipated enough with constitutional challenges and other proceedings, it will force the government to adapt its legislation to make marijuana legal without limitations. “I’d like to see it just opened up. Let it be like tomatoes,” stated Turmel.

Jodie Emery is another activist facing her own list of charges and pressures from the law, and she has mixed feelings about this courtroom tactic.

I think all cannabis cases should be tossed out immediately, and the backlog should be removed so courts can deal with actual criminals who commit crimes like murder, assault, theft, and rape,” Emery said in an interview with “My concern with clogging the courts with pot cases is that it contributes to the problems the Jordan decision focused on, [which is] letting actually bad people go free. But it also puts pressure where it needs to be applied, on the politicians who refuse to call for a moratorium on pot arrests and charges,” she added.

The impact of Turmel’s actions on the justice system is yet unknown, but the reality is that Canadians are still being charged and penalized for marijuana. In the face of that sanctimony, the political activists feel that all available tactics to fight back are fair game.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

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