03/05/2014 11:20 EST | Updated 05/05/2014 05:59 EDT

Pot Legislation 'Under Serious Consideration,' Peter MacKay Says


Federal laws on marijuana possession could soon get a major facelift.

The Conservative government is looking at potentially changing policy to allow police officers to issue tickets to people caught with small amounts of marijuana, rather than lay charges.

This is distinct from decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay told reporters on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning he has tasked the justice department "with looking at and coming forward with what could be a draft legislation." 

In contrast, MacKay's office said only yesterday it had "nothing new to add at this point" regarding possible changes to the laws on marijuana.

"As was stated previously, our government would look at the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police’s proposal to ticket small amounts of marijuana," he said in response to a CBC News query.

Today, MacKay said he met with over the weekend with Vancouver's police chief, who he said "seems to be very favourably inclined," as well as "a lot of police" he spoke with lately. 

"So it is under serious consideration," MacKay said.

Canadian police chiefs support a ticketing system for pot possession, which they adopted as a resolution at a meeting in Winnipeg last August.

Currently, under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act of the Criminal Code of Canada, a person found guilty of possession of small amounts of marijuana can be jailed up to five years. A first-time offender could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to six months in jail.

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