Parliament’s Criminal Act
By Dana Larsen
Do you grow or sell pot in your family home? Do you work in a hempstore, or live with
someone who does? Do you belong to a cannabis buyer’s club, or even hang out with your
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there’s a new law in the works just
for people like you. It defines you as a member of a criminal organization and sentences
you to a mandatory minimum of one year in jail.
They Are Out to Get You
If the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the subsequent farce of a drug policy
review wasn’t enough to convince you that our government is out to get us, there’s a new
bill which provides conclusive evidence.
The Criminal Organization Act has had readings in both the Senate and Parliament, and will
be going before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs sometime
over the coming weeks.
It proposes to create a new category of crime, that of belonging to a “criminal
organization”, which is so loosely defined that it could include every hemp store,
social smoking club and grow room in the country.
The penalty for being a member of a criminal organization is a minimum of one year in jail
and a maximum of ten years. The one-year minimum is an extraordinary penalty, as it is
extremely rare for Canadian laws to include such mandatory minimums.
Growers and Hemp Stores Beware!
This Bill could have a devastating effect if combined with the increased powers of search
and seizure in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. A group of roommates or a family
of five with a small grow room in the basement could easily have their home and vehicles
seized under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and then be defined as a criminal
organization and each face a mandatory year in prison.
The Criminal Organization Act could be easily applied to cannabis buyer’s clubs, and could
also be used against employees of hemp stores (especially those that carry marijuana
Never Mind the Charter of Rights
The Bill’s authors certainly knew the implications of what they were writing, as they
added the notorious “notwithstanding” clause at the end of the Bill, which
provides our government with a backdoor through our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In Canada’s twisted system of legislation an unconstitutional bill like this one can be
passed into law, as long as it openly states which rights it is in violation of. Thus the
Criminal Organization Act specifies that it operates notwithstanding the right to freedom
of association and expression, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and
the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
For More Info…
This is a very dangerous bill, and although it’s got a ways to go before becoming law,
it’s worth paying attention to. The Criminal Organization Act was introduced to Parliament
in February of 1996 as Bill C-203, and to the Senate in June of 1996 as Bill S-10.
For a copy of Bill S-10, and to testify before the Senate about this Bill, contact Heather
Lank, Clerk of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Room
706, 140 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A4; phone (613) 995-5013; fax (613)
email: [email protected].