What Every Canadian
Should Know About
does not reduce
the penalties for
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 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 Bill C-7 subcommittee, “no traceable record will appear in national criminal databases.”
Unfortunately, this criminal record is more traceable than the government claims. Both Canadian and US customs and immigration officials have been publicly quoted as saying that Bill C-7 will not affect either the flow of information or the way in which they deal with people.
It is also an offence to lie to an employer or a customs agent about having a criminal record, so a law abiding citizen must reveal that she has a criminal record when asked.
In claiming that Bill C-7 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 Bill C-7 blatantly attacks Canadian rights and freedoms.
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.
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 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 Bill C-7 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. Bill C-7 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.
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 judicial process. It hastens cases through the courts by eliminating requirements for preliminary hearings and trials by jury.”
Ms Fry 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 Bill C-7 is indeed a gain. If the goal of our justice system is to protect peaceful citizens from intrusion and violence, then Bill C-7 is a travesty beyond measure.
This is also a serious concern for Cannabis Canadians in Vancouver, who have been living under the shelter of a directive which advised Vancouver police that the Crown would not approve simple drug possession charges unless there was an aggravating factor.
The reasoning behind this decision was that there were too many charges for the overburdened justice system to cope with. Since whatever backlog that existed has presumably been cleared away, and the justice system will be “streamlined” under Bill C-7, perhaps we will once again be seeing Vancouverites arrested and jailed for their use of cannabis flower tops.
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 could benefit from its use. There is no valid reason to withhold medical marijuana from sick and dying Canadians.
doesn’t allow the cultivation of cannabis hemp.
Despite the growing number of Canadians who are applying to cultivate cannabis hemp for industrial and agricultural purposes, Bill C-7 makes no allowance for the commercial cultivation of hemp.
During the passing of Bill C-7, Paul Szabo stated that “Bill C-7 does not at present permit the commercial cultivation of hemp… the commercial production of hemp is a long way off, if indeed it is appropriate at all.”