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Four Things Every Canadian Should Know About Bill C-7
|by Dana Larsen|
Bill C-7, also known as the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act, was passed by
Parliament on October 30th, the day of the Québec referendum. It is now before
the Senate, and could become law before the end of November.
Bill C-7 is being presented to Canadians as a relaxation of the current drug
laws. In fact, Bill C-7 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 Bill C-7 becomes law then more Canadians will spend more time in jail
for using marijuana.
Bill C-7 does not reduce the penalties
for possession of marijuana.
The penalties for possession of marijuana under Bill C-7 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 C-7, those found guilty of
Unfortunately, the government’s claim that a conviction on this charge will not
In claiming that Bill C-7 is somehow more tolerant because of this provision, the
Bill C-7 drastically increases
police powers of search and seizure.
Bill C-7 expands legislation on offense-related property, so that property used
to commit drug related crimes can be more easily seized by the government.
"Bill C-7 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.
Bill C-7 also significantly expands the ability of the police to arbitrarily
The aspect of Bill C-7 which most easily lends itself to abuse is a provision
Bill C-7 will “streamline” the justice system
to allow for more trafficking charges to be laid.
|Bill C-7 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, “Bill C-7 leads to a streamlining of the
Hedy continued to say that “until now, when trafficking has been the issue,
According to Ms Fry, abandoning these fundamental judicial procedures for the
"Our position is that Bill C-7 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."
Canadian Foundation on Drug Policy
|Bill C-7 prohibits all medical use of marijuana.|
"Bill C-7 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 Bill C-7 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
|What you can do today:|
|It is imperative that Bill C-7 does not become law in Canada without significant
amendments. It is within the power of the Senate to modify Bill C-7 so as to
reduce police powers of search and seizure, allow for the medical use of
marijuana, or even follow policies of tolerance and harm reduction such as those
found in Holland and embodied in the Frankfurt Resolution.
You should phone or write to both Gérald Beaudoin and Diane Marleau. Explain to
Gérald Beaudoin is the Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal &
Diane Marleau is the federal Minister of Health. Bill C-7 was created by her
You should also write a letter in your local newspaper. Photocopy fax and e-mail
"We recommend that the Canadian government take time to fully discuss and
consider the impact of its proposed legislation across the country, allowing for
debate from all citizens within the context of Canada's drug strategy."
Toronto Dept of Public Health