March 31, 1997
The following story is excerpted from the upcoming issue of Cannabis Canada (CC#8), which will be on the shelves in about 2 weeks.
THE CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION 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 dealer?
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 acriminal organization and sentences you to a mandatory minimum of one year in jail.
They're out to get you
If the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the subsequent farce of adrug 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 under the Criminal Organization Act and each face a mandatoryyear in prison.
The Criminal Organizations 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 seeds).
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 right sit is in violation of. Thus the Criminal Organizations 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 Information
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) 947-2104; email[email protected].
Dana Larsen [email protected]
Editor, Cannabis Canada, “Canada’s National Magazine of Marijuana & Hemp”
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