On October 14, the Toronto Star reported that, according to its anonymous source, the so-called decriminalization bill, C-38, would be attacked at the last moment by pot opponents who would attempt to add mandatory minimum prison sentences for growers and reduce the amount one can possess before facing court from 15 to 10 grams.
According to the Toronto Star’s source, the changes would be proposed during the Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs (SNUD), which was restruck on Monday to hear the bill. Cannabis Culture magazine contacted Liberal MP Paddy Torsney, who chairs the committee, for more details.
Torsney explained that the SNUD would speed up the legislation, which would otherwise need to be heard by the already overloaded Justice Committee, and expressed the SNUD’s overall tone, which couldn’t be described as overly pot-friendly.
“I think all parties supported the concept of decriminalization, of changing the way to punish people who break the laws,” she said, “and all parties supported getting tougher on grow ops, because of dangers to the community and because they support organized crime. So they all want to see it passed, perhaps with amendments.”
She explained that the SNUD committee would provide one opportunity for such amendments to be made.
“Some colleagues who feel strongly about this will be trying to influence the committee to make changes to the legislation,” she said, and admitted that there has been talk of reducing the decriminalized possession amount from 15 to 10 grams, because of pressure from opponents of the bill.
She also confirmed that the most likely person to bring tough new anti-pot motions to the bill was SNUD member and Alliance MP Randy White, a US drug war apologist who sees decrim as a way to crack down on the pot industry. White has promised to hold up the bill unless he gets his way.
“I don’t think any one MP can put a stop to it,” Torsney commented. “The House and the Senate are their own masters.” She admitted however, that “there are a number of parliamentary techniques members could use” to slow the bill down.
Among them, an insider told me, was filibustering ? a technique by which politicians argue or speak at great length, sometimes literally for days on end. The insider felt that filibustering at the committee level could seriously jeopardize the bill, for rumour has it that the House could adjourn in early November, after which Prime Minister Chretien ? the main mover behind decrim ? has promised to step down.
Pot activists would hardly shed a tear if bill C-38 didn’t pass. The bill already doubles the possible jail time for growers, adds tough penalties for people growing in rented homes, and would turn pot possession offenses into a profitable ticket-fine cash-cow for cops.
Torsney suggested that it was possible that MP’s could also make pro-pot motions. She suggested that anyone hoping to influence the bill positively should contact more enlightened committee members like NDP MP Libby Davies with suggestions.
Special Committee on the Non-medical Use of Drugs email: [email protected]
Committee Members’ Emails:
Paddy Torsney (Liberal) (Committee Chair): [email protected]
Carole-Marie Allard (Liberal): [email protected]
Mauril Belanger (liberal): [email protected]
Dominic LeBlanc (Liberal): [email protected]
Derek Lee (Liberal): [email protected]
Hedy Fry (Liberal): [email protected]
Gilbert Barrette (Liberal): [email protected]
Randy White (Alliance): [email protected]
Kevin Sorenson (Alliance): [email protected]
Richard Marceau (Bloc Quebecois): [email protected]
Real Menard (Bloc Quebecois): [email protected]
Inky Mark (PC): [email protected]
Libby Davies (NDP): [email protected]
See also CC Online: Canada’s decrim bill turning into crackdown