New Brunswick

Lawyer pushes for pot pardons once drug becomes legal

A New Brunswick criminal lawyer says people previously convicted of marijuana possession should be pardoned once pot becomes legal.

Folks don’t take your marijuana in your cars, says a New Brunswick criminal lawyer

A man with glasses and a moustache sits in front of a bookshelf.
Hampton lawyer David Lutz says people convicted of marijuana possession should be pardoned when pot becomes legal in October. (CBC )

A New Brunswick criminal lawyer says people previously convicted of marijuana possession should be pardoned once pot becomes legal.

"It's something the government can simply do with the stroke of a pen," said David Lutz, who was once a federal drug prosecutor for the province. 

Starting Oct. 17, Canadians will be allowed to use cannabis without criminal penalties.

Lutz said people convicted of possession under existing or old laws, should not have to carry the criminal record.

And the pardon should apply to anyone ever charged with possession, the Hampton lawyer said.

Lutz said he experienced something similar in the United States after his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War 50 years ago. In 1977, former president Jimmy Carter pardoned men who evaded the draft.

Lutz, who moved to Canada to avoid Vietnam, said there's no record of his refusal unless someone wanted to dig through the archives.

"I've been allowed to go back since then," Lutz said of his native country. "That's the power of the prime minister or the president." 

Everybody 'calm down'

Meanwhile, as Canada waits for the legalization of marijuana, "everybody needs to calm down," Lutz said.

"When I say everybody, it's the law enforcement people, also the people in the past who have used marijuana and are looking forward to the legalization," he said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

Over the past 10 to 15 years, he said, police have been using their discretion. They don't go out of their way to arrest people for having a joint or even "three or four joints" in their pocket.

Lutz, who was once pardoned himself — for evading the U.S. draft — says police have used discretion in recent years in dealing with people carrying small amounts of marijuana. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

"That discretion has worked well over the past few years," Lutz said.

At the same time, he cautioned potentially careless people by citing the Kenny Rogers song Don't Take Your Guns to Town

"Folks, don't take your marijuana in your cars," he said.

He said the people who should be worried these days are drug dealers themselves.

An end for weed traffickers

"Those people are going to have to realize that they're going to be out of business," he said.

"If you can go down to the legal pot dispensary regulated by the government in 12 weeks, to me those people who were previously selling just have to recognize that's the end."

And people smoking marijuana do not cause the kind of problems that people who use alcohol do, he said.

"People who smoke marijuana, in my experience, they stay home and, if anything, they eat too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as opposed to driving recklessly in their cars … getting in fights and committing crimes," he said.   

With files from Information Morning Fredericton