Canada’s Government Introduces Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences for Drugs

Phone the Justice Department! (613) 957-4222 and (613) 992-4621 The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced legislative reforms to introduce mandatory jail time for people who commit the serious crimes of producing and selling illegal drugs. “Drug producers and dealers who threaten the safety of our communities must face tougher penalties,” said Minister Nicholson. “This is why our Government is moving to impose mandatory jail time for serious drug offences that involve organized crime, violence or youth.”

Phone the Justice Department

(613) 957-4222
(613) 992-4621

Then Contact Rob Nicholson’s Offices

tel: 613-995-1547
fax: 613-992-7910
email: [email protected]

Niagara Falls
tel: 905-353-9590
fax: 905-353-9588
email: [email protected]

Fort Erie
tel: 905-871-9991
fax: 905-871-5046
email: [email protected]

Department of Justice Canada website

Mandatory Minimum Prison for Serious Drug Crimes

The proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) will ensure that certain serious drug offences will result in mandatory prison sentences. Currently there are no minimum penalties under the CDSA. The amendments include:

* A one-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for dealing drugs such as marijuana when carried out for organized crime purposes, or when a weapon or violence is involved;

(From the website
“What Is Organized Crime? It is serious crime planned and carried out by a group of at least three people to benefit one or more members of the group.”)

* A two-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to youth, or for dealing those drugs near a school or an area normally frequented by youth;

* A two-year mandatory prison sentence will be imposed for the offence of running a large marijuana grow operation of at least 500 plants;

* The maximum penalty for cannabis production would increase from 7 to 14 years imprisonment; and

* Tougher penalties will be introduced for trafficking GHB and flunitrazepam (most commonly known as date-rape drugs).

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“Drugs are dangerous and destructive, yet we see Canadian youth being exposed to and taking drugs at such young ages, and grow-ops and drug labs appearing in our residential areas,” said Minister Nicholson. “By introducing these changes, our message is clear: if you sell or produce drugs – you’ll pay with jail time.”

The new legislation also contains an exception that allows courts not to impose the mandatory sentence if an offender successfully completes a Drug Treatment Court (DTC) program. The program works with individuals with drug-related offences – who meet certain eligibility criteria – to overcome their drug addictions and avoid future conflict with the law. It involves a blend of judicial supervision, incentives for reduced drug use, social services support, and sanctions for non-compliance.


Proposed New Mandatory Sentences for Serious Drug Offences Schedule 1 drugs (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc.)

Aggravating Factors List A

The aggravating factors include offences committed:
* for the benefit of organized crime;
* involving use or threat of violence;
* involved use or threat of use of weapons;
* by someone who was previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a serious drug offence involving a Schedule I or II substance.

Aggravating Factors List B

The aggravating factors include offences committed:
* in a prison;
* in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
* in concert with a youth
* in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth)

Health and Safety Factors
* the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
* the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
* the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area;
* the accused placed or set a trap.

These legislative reforms are part of the Government of Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy, a multi-pronged approach announced last month by Prime Minister Harper. The strategy also focuses on preventing illicit drug use and treating those with illicit drug dependencies. It is a collaborative effort involving the Department of Justice, Public Safety Canada and Health Canada. In addition to its plan to institute mandatory prison terms for serious drug crimes, the Government of Canada has tabled the comprehensive Tackling Violent Crime Act that aims to better protect youth from sexual predators, protect society from dangerous offenders, get serious with drug impaired drivers and toughen sentencing and bail for those who commit serious gun crimes; Tabled legislation to strengthen the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA); Invested in crime prevention community projects across Canada that target youth; Announced a comprehensive review of the YCJA in 2008; Passed legislation to increase penalties for those convicted of street racing; Passed legislation to end house arrest for serious crimes such as personal injury offences; and announced that legislation will be tabled to protect Canadians from identity theft.