Although the Canadian Government passed legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana, you can still be charged with marijuana related offences, but more importantly the police have marijuana search powers.
The Cannabis Control Act
The Ontario Provincial Government passed the Cannabis Control Act which helps regulate the sale and possession of marijuana. The Act also allows police to search a vehicle under section 12(3). The section reads:
A police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that cannabis is being contained in a vehicle or boat in contravention of subsection (1) may at any time, without a warrant, enter and search the vehicle or boat and search any person found in it.
This section is similar to the search power in the Liquor License Act.
When Can the Police Search my Car for Cannabis?
Section 12(3) of the Cannabis Control Act confers a power on the police to search a motor vehicle based on the existence of both: (a) reasonable grounds to believe that there was cannabis in the vehicle; and (b) reasonable grounds to believe that the cannabis was located other than in: (i) baggage that was fastened closed or otherwise not readily available to any person; or (ii) in its original packaging that had not been opened. Reasonable grounds require a “credibly-based probability” that there was cannabis in the vehicle and the packaging and location of the marijuana did not meet one of the exceptions outlined.
If the police exercise their authority under s. 12(3) of the Cannabis Control Act, they are allowed to search the vehicle and the people in the vehicle for marijuana.
A police officer’s use of this search power can be challenged in court. You can argue that the officer lacked sufficient grounds, or the search was unreasonable. If that is proven, it will be a breach of your section 8 Charter rights since it would be an unlawful search. This could lead to the exclusion of any evidence located during the search.
If you or someone you know has had their vehicle searched pursuant to the Cannabis Control Act, contact the lawyers of Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh to assist you.