Bill C-8: An Alternative Policy
A continued unwillingness to
the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act
. . .an Alternative Policy
When the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy (CFDP) testified before the Senate in mid-December,
they recommended that the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act be completely rejected by the Senate,
to allow for a “comprehensive review” of Canada’s drug policy to take place.
Some of the Senators on the committee asked the CFDP to provide them with amendments to the Act.
They claimed they would rather modify the bill than reject it outright.
After some time and study, the CFDP has produced a series of amendments to the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act. These amendments make harm reduction and tolerance the basis
of Canada’s drug strategy.
In a letter to the Honourable Senator Gerald A. Beaudoin, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Eugene Oscapella of the CFDP explained that his organization
had six main goals in mind when they created the amendments. Eugene described these goals as follows:
to reduce the violence associated with the black market in drugs.
to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV and other lethal bloodborne infections.
to reduce the financial burden on society that arises from unnecessary drug related expenditures,
including policing, prosecution, defence and court costs, the cost of incarceration,
and the cost of supporting families of those imprisoned for cer
tain activities which are now illegal.
to stress the need to explore alternatives to current drug policies and laws so that the harms of drug use to users and
to society alike will be kept to a minimum.
to respect international human rights obligations.
to reduce the unnecessary and unproductive criminalization o
f large numbers of Canadians for the possession of currently illegal substances.
The amendments which the CFDP recommended can be divided into two different categories.
Some of the amendments aim to introduce tolerance and harm reduction into Canada’s drug policy,
while other are there to ensure that these are still some controls in place similar to those
for already legal drugs.
THE TOLERANCE AMENDMENTS
to remove the criminal prohibition for the possession
by adults of small amounts of substances for personal use. The specific amounts
of these substances are to be determined by an expert advisory committee.
to allow the cultivation of up to 10 plants of cannabis without a permit, or more w
ith a permit issued under the regulations.
to remove the criminal prohibition on the transfer among adults, for no consideration,
of small amounts of substances.
to clarify the law to ensure that syringe exchange programs,
which are absolutely essential to reduce the further spread of HIV and hepatitis B and C infections,
are not impeded by defining a “controlled substance” to include containers
used to deliver substances.
under strict conditions, to remove the criminal prohibition on the importation of small amounts of substances for personal use.
to rationalize sentencing for offences involving possession of larger amounts
to include a declaration of principle about the goals and aims
of drug laws and policies.
to require the appointment of an independent committee
to review of Canada’s drug laws and policies, the review to be completed within
one year of the committee’s appointment.
THE CONTROL AMENDMENTS
to confirm that the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to impairment continue
to apply to any impairment caused by any substance regulated by the Bill.
to control possession of substances by minors by permitting peace officers to
confiscate substances held by minors.
to permit a peace officer to confiscate substances possessed by any person
where the officer reasonably believes that the person may cause immediate harm to himself
or others if he consumes the substance.
to continue to prohibit the trafficking of substances to minors,
whether for consideration or not.
If accepted, these amendments would transform the Controlled Drug
s and Substances Act from a brutally prohibitionist bill into a tolerant and
compassionate piece of legislation.
Eugene Oscapella’s letter explained that “the amendments we propose do not address
all of our many concerns with the Bill. However, if implemented, they will help to
resolve several of the most pressing problems.”
COME TOGETHER, RIGHT NOW
It is important for all Canadians to come together and support the amendments
to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as proposed by the CFDP.
The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs must receive many letters,
faxes, and phone calls from citizens across the country who support these recommendations.
We have provided two letters for you to copy and send to the Senate and the Ministry of Health.
Please feel free to modify these letters in order to reflect your personal ideas. The important thing
is that you send off two letters in support of harm reduction and the recommendations of the CFDP.
The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs can be written to at: Room 706, 140 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario,
K1A 0A4. Committee clerk Heather Lank can be reached at (613) 995-5013.
Her fax number is (613) 947-2104. She can also be reached by email at [email protected].
The Ministry of Health can be written to at: The Hon David Dingwall, Minister of Health,
House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6. His phone number is (613) 996-4743,
and his fax number is (613) 996-9851.
All postage to the Senate and the House of Commons is free. Only you can stop the Controlled Drugs
and Substances Act.