Five Things Every Canadian Should Know About The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act
|by Dana Larsen|
|The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act was passed by Parliament on October 30th, the day of the Quebec referendum. It is now before the Senate, and could become law before the end of April.||The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act is being presented to Canadians as a relaxation of the current drug laws. In fact, this Bill does not reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana. Instead it increases police powers of search and seizure and "streamlines" the justice system to allow for more trafficking charges to be laid. If the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act becomes law then more Canadians will spend more time in jail for using marijuana.|
| The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act
does not reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana.
| The penalties for possession of marijuana under the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act are exactly the same as they are under the present Narcotic Control Act. The penalty for first time possession of thirty grams or less of cannabis continues to be a $1,000 fine or six months in jail or both.
It is being claimed that under the revised Bill, those found guilty of possessing less than thirty grams of marijuana will not have their fingerprints or photographs taken. According to Hedy Fry, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and a member of the Parliamentary subcommittee on the bill, “no traceable record will appear in national criminal databases.”
Unfortunately, the government’s claim that a conviction on this charge will not affect international travel is simply not true. Both Canadian and US customs and immigration officials have been publicly quoted as saying that this Bill will not affect either the flow of information or the way in which they deal with people.
In claiming that the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act is somehow more tolerant because of this provision, the Ministry of Health is willfully misleading the Canadian people. This aspect of the bill is only there to draw attention away from the ways in which this Bill blatantly attacks Canadian rights and freedoms.
| The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act drastically increases
police powers of search and seizure.
|The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act expands legislation on offense-related property, so that property used to commit drug related crimes can be more easily seized by the government.|
|"this Bill will result in a significant increase in rates of incarceration and in lengths of sentences, and will place additional stresses on an already overburdened criminal justice system. It will not contribute to public health but will accomplish exactly the opposite." Canadian Bar Association||This type of legislation is very open to abuse. In the United States, where police departments are usually rewarded with some of the spoils, prosecutors aggressively seize family homes because of a few plants growing in the garden or basement. It is clearly a bad policy to provide a financial incentive for police departments to raid and seize the homes and possessions of peaceful Canadians.
The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act also significantly expands the ability of the police to arbitrarily search Canadians, and allows the police to search anyone who is on the premises where a search is being carried out. This type of blanket search warrant is unconstitutional, unnecessary, and sets a dangerous precedent.
The aspect of the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act which most easily lends itself to abuse is a provision which exempts members of the police force from the laws which they are supposed to enforce. This Bill will permit police to violate their own regulations on searches, and will also authorize police to actively sell drugs, all under the pretext of protecting Canadians from drug dealers. These are significant changes from the Narcotic Control Act and accepted practice.
|The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act will “streamline” the justice system to allow for more trafficking charges to be laid.|
|The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act sets the maximum penalty for trafficking in under three kilograms of cannabis at five years less a day. According to Hedy Fry, the reason for this decrease is not because the gravity of the offence has been diminished, “in fact, the subcommittee wanted to deal with trafficking as harshly.”|
| Since the courts have been refusing to hand down the current fourteen year maximum penalty for trafficking, the drug war bureaucracy has simply taken a new angle in their battle to jail Canadians.
As Hedy Fry explained to Parliament, the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act “leads to a streamlining of the judicial process. It hastens cases through the courts by eliminating requirements for preliminary hearings and trials by jury.”
Hedy continued to say that “until now, when trafficking has been the issue, prosecutors would often reduce it to a possession charge rather than proceed through a full pre-trial and trial by jury. Now prosecutors will be more likely to lay the charges they should have been laying.”
According to Ms Fry, abandoning these fundamental judicial procedures for the sake of expediency would be “a net gain for the criminal justice process.” If the only goal of the criminal justice process is to imprison Canadians for a harmless and common activity, then perhaps The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act is indeed a gain. If the goal of our justice system is to protect peaceful citizens from intrusion and violence, then this Bill is a travesty beyond measure.
| "Our position is that this Bill should be withdrawn completely."
"this bill will neither stop the flow of drugs into Canada, nor the production of drugs within Canada... it does absolutely nothing to address the multiple causes of drug use in society."
"In the guise of complying with international drug control conventions, we are trampling all over international human rights conventions." Eugene Oscapella
Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy
|The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act prohibits all medical use of marijuana.|
| "The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act fails to strike a balance between controlling the illegal use of drugs and permitting legitimate medical and other uses."
Dr Richard Kennedy
President of the Canadian Medical Association
|Although The Controlled Drugs & Substances Act allows for the medical use of heroin, morphine, cocaine and other listed substances, it makes no allowance for the medical use of marijuana. Apparently, using cannabis to ease the pain of arthritis or the suffering of AIDS is more of a risk than our government can tolerate.
Marijuana has a great many medical benefits and should not be denied to those who could benefit from its use. There is no valid reason to withhold medical marijuana from sick and dying Canadians.
During the passing of the Bill in Parliament, Paul Szabo stated that the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act “does not at present permit the commercial cultivation of hemp… the commercial cultivation of hemp is a long way off, if indeed it is appropriate at all.”