Waterloo Regional Police Chief Matt Torigian says he stands fully behind the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in their bid to alter the punishment for marijuana users.

Delegates at the association’s annual meeting have passed a resolution that says officers should be given the option to ticket people found smoking marijuana rather than press criminal charges when confronted with a person in possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.

“We’re saying there ought to be a change to the regulations that would allow us to issue a ticket,” Torigian tells CTV News.

According to the CACP, nearly half of drug charges in Canada are for marijuana possession.

Torigian says a ticket and accompanying fine would be much less costly to the judicial system than pushing every marijuana user police find through court.

“When you have a young person, maybe 19 years old, and they’re found in possession of a small amount of marijuana – do you really think that person should have a criminal conviction for the rest of their life?” he says.

“Myself and a number of others would suggest no, as long as we are doing something as a society to continue to discourage the use of drugs.”

The idea sounds like a good one to Adam Uebele, who was criminally charged after police discovered him and some friends using marijuana in Kitchener’s Victoria Park.

“They ended up taking our information, taking all our stuff as well as the pipe that we were using, and telling us ‘We’ll see you in court,’” he says.

Uebele says it would be important for any ticketing system to take into account the amount of marijuana found by police.

Although the CACP proposal stops short of decriminalizing marijuana, Torigian says he is in favour of movement in that direction provided greater supports are put in place for those with substance abuse issues.

“It would have to include some necessary and mandatory conditions, not the least of which would be ‘What are we doing to work with this individual who has been found to be in possession? What are we doing to educate them on the harm of illicit narcotics?’” he says.

The ticketing proposal would require changes to federal law.

With files from The Canadian Press