Bill C-26 has mandatory minimum prison sentences for pot! DO SOMETHING CANADA!

Bill C-26 was last debated in the House of Commons on April 16th, 2008 and has been recommended for Committee review. It proposes minimum penalties for the production, possession, trafficking and importing/exporting of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs. Bill C-26 takes a page from American policy by imposing mandatory minimums and harsher penalties for drug crimes. A person could be jailed for at least 6 months for the crime of growing as little as one marijuana plant if this legislation passes. We have seen how badly the drug war has failed in America, so why adopt a similar approach? Why should we move for an approach in favour of more imprisonment?
Bill C-26 passed the House of Commons April 16, 2008

(Click here for Committee Contact Information)

Bill C-26 now goes to the Justice and Human Rights Committee for more debate. Please contact the following people to express your opinion about mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana:

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST)

Miriam Burke
Clerk of the Committee:
Room 6-21
131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6 Canada
Tel: (613) 996-1553
Fax: (613) 996-1962
E-mail: [email protected]

Erica Pereira
Committee Clerk:
Sixth Floor, 131 Queen Street
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6 Canada
Tel: (613) 943-9981
Fax: (613) 996-1962
E-mail: [email protected]

Summary of C-26

The Bill proposes minimum penalties for the production, possession, trafficking, importing/exporting and production of Marijuana, Cocaine Heroin, Methamphetamines and other drugs.

Marijuana:

1 to 2 year mandatory prisons sentences for the production, possession for the purposes of trafficking, trafficking, and importing/exporting; Length of sentences depend on “aggravating factors” such as a prior drug offence, if trafficking takes place in areas where there are young people or children, if health and safety of children, property, residential property or property of a third party is threatened; Sentences relating to possession, trafficking, importing/exporting, mostly depend on quantities however, mandatory sentences for production of even 1 marijuana plant calls for a minimum sentence of 6 months; And the maximum penalty for cannabis production would increase from 7 to 14 years imprisonment.

For more detailed information and a chart with the proposed mandatory minimum sentences, please visit www.CannabisFacts.ca/MadatoryMinimums.html. Thanks to “FrankDiscussion” for creating the CannabisFacts.ca website and covering Bill C-26.

Take Action: 4 things you can do to fight Bill C-26

1) Inform yourself: Learn more about Bill C-26 by reading this website.

2) Raise awareness: Tell your friends and family about Bill C-26: Print out any pages from this site, including the files on the Information page.

3) Write letters and e-mails: Write a letter to the editor for your local newspaper. Write an e-mail and or letter to your member of parliament about Bill C-26, and consider asking why the House of Commons continues to support marijuana prohibition. Please also see the CSSDP‘s Bill C-26 writing campaign.

4) Call in: Phone the Justice Department: (613) 957-4222, (613) 992-4621 or contact Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

Mandatory Minimums Do Not Work

Bill C-26 is designed to appeal to the core Conservative base. It is an oversimplification of drug use in Canada that uses scare tactics to bully people into thinking that marijuana is at the root of violent and organized crime in Canada. This Bill does nothing to address either of those problems. Conservatives are taking Canada in the wrong direction. A direction that is expensive, has no effect on drug use, and will only increase the prison population, creating a new set of overpopulation, health, safety, and crime problems within the prison system.

A 2002 Justice Department report concluded that mandatory minimum sentences are least effective in relation to drug offences: “MMS do not appear to influence drug consumption or drug-related crime in any measurable way. A variety of research methods concludes that treatment-based approaches are more cost effective than lengthy prison terms. MMS are blunt instruments that fail to distinguish between low and high-level, as well as hardcore versus transient drug dealers.” – MANDATORY MINIMUM PENALTIES: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures, 2002

Overall Concerns

There is no proof that mandatory minimums are effective and appropriate measures to reduce drug use and crimes related to drugs. Most evidence shows the opposite. C-26 does not address the core issue of why people use drugs. C-26 increases already imbalanced and over-funded enforcement approach to drug use in Canada without reducing crime rates or drug use, and abandons successful measures such as harm reduction and grass roots education programs. C-26 moves toward expensive, failed US style war on drugs that spends tens of billions a year on enforcement and incarceration while crime rates and drug use soar, and leads to greater incarceration rates and greater burden on courts, police, and prisons.

The Bill leaves it open for enforcement to go after the low level dealers and marijuana infractions (The selling of one joint or growing one plant could constitute trafficking). Current waiting lists for drug treatment beds is from months to years, depending on the city and region, Drug Treatment Courts will only serve to put more people on a waiting list.

Failed US War on Drugs

– Mandatory-sentencing policies have produced record incarceration rates of non-violent drug users in the United States. (HIV/AIDS Legal Network).

– 2.1 million people are in US prisons. 80 % of the increase in the federal prison population from 85-95 is due to drug convictions. By 2004, drug offenders made up 54 percent of sentenced federal prisoners, up from just 25 percent in 1980 (American Bar Association and Drug Policy Alliance). US minimums were introduced in 1986.

– The supposed targets for these sentences – the Kingpins are in the best position to negotiate lighter or no sentence deals with the prosecutors.

– MMs disproportionately target visible minorities (American Civil Liberties Union)

– In June 2004, the American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) Justice Kennedy Commission called on Congress to repeal mandatory minimum sentences, particularly with respect to drug crimes. “Mandatory minimum sentences tend to be tough on the wrong people.”

– The US Sentencing Commission concluded that MMs fail to deter crime, and reported that that only 11% of federal drug defendants are high-level drug dealers, 59% of crack defendants are street level dealers compared to 5% of defendants who are high level crack dealers. (US Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress, 1995).

– In 2000, California repealed MMs for minor drug offences. In 2004, Michigan repealed MMs for most drug offences including repealing the “harshest drug law in the nation”, life without parole for dealing more that 650 grams of cocaine. (Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency) Delaware and Massachusetts have similar legislative reviews in process.

Take Action: 4 things you can do to fight Bill C-26

1) Inform yourself: Learn more about Bill C-26 by reading this website.

2) Raise awareness: Tell your friends and family about Bill C-26: Print out any pages from this site, including the files on the Information page.

3) Write letters and e-mails: Write a letter to the editor for your local newspaper. Write an e-mail and or letter to your member of parliament about Bill C-26, and consider asking why the House of Commons continues to support marijuana prohibition. Please also see the CSSDP‘s Bill C-26 writing campaign.

4) Call in: Phone the Justice Department: (613) 957-4222, (613) 992-4621 or contact Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

Key Talking Points

– The bill ignores the root causes and problems of drug use in Canada: prohibition.

– Mandatory Minimums don’t work on drug crimes. The experience in the American system shows us this model does not work.

– This is a recipe for exploding prisons, courtroom backlogs and millions of wasted tax payer’s dollars.

– As usual, the Conservatives are ignoring what is working and going for a failed George Bush style war on drugs.

– This is a win for Organized Crime – taking the small players off the street, pushing up the prices of drugs and leaving the door open for organized crime.

INFORMATION PROVIDED BY: http://c-26.oldsock.com

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

Ottawa
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 http://OrganizedCrime.ca:
“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).

Call to Express Your Opinions on This Outrageous Legislation Proposal!

Darren Eke
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

Department of Justice
General Inquiries Line (leave a message)
613-957-4222

“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.

Backgrounder

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.

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