Tories to consider softening marijuana laws

A Canadian flag with a marijuana leaf is flown during a 4/20 rally to demand the legalization of...

A Canadian flag with a marijuana leaf is flown during a 4/20 rally to demand the legalization of marijuana on Parliament Hill in Ottawa April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 4:29 PM ET

OTTAWA — As the year ends, Justice Minister Peter MacKay is strongly hinting that steps to modernize Canada's marijuana laws might be just around the corner.

Fining pot smokers for possession of small amounts is one policy the government will likely consider.

"That doesn't mean decriminalizing or legalizing, but it does mean giving police options, for example, to issue fines in addition to any other sanctions, or as a substitute for other sanctions," MacKay told QMI Agency. "These are things that we are willing to look at in the new year, but there's been no decision taken."

This is the first time the Conservatives have mentioned the idea since Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the feds were looking "very carefully" at it in August.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says fining pot smokers may be just the ticket to give officers an option other than ignoring law-breakers or criminally charging them, setting up a long, expensive legal process.

<


Videos

Photos