08/20/2013 03:30 EDT | Updated 10/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Police chiefs propose tickets for pot

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting in Winnipeg this week, wants officers to have the ability to ticket people found with 30 grams of marijuana or less.

Chief Mark Mander, chair of the association's drug abuse committee, said officers currently have only two choices: turn a blind eye, or lay down the law.

"Either to caution the offender, or lay formal charges, resulting in [a] lengthy, difficult process, which results in a criminal charge if proven, a criminal conviction, and a criminal record."

Mander said ticketing the offender would be far less onerous and expensive.

Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, in Winnipeg to gather ideas for a bill of rights for victims of crime, said he appreciates the input.

But in a statement he said that the government "has no intention of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana," even though that is not what the police chiefs are proposing.

Mander said in a near unanimous vote, the chiefs voted to propose a ticket and fine for simple possession.

"Clearly there are circumstances where a formal charge for simple possession is appropriate, however the large majority of simple possession cases would be more effectively, efficiently dealt with [by issuing a ticket]."

Mander said that would also free up court time.