Conservatives Would Impose Mandatory Sentences on Drug Dealers, Grow-Ops

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The federal government is proposing changes to the Criminal Code that would impose mandatory minimum jail time for serious drug crimes. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the legislation tabled by the Tories Friday would impose a one-year minimum sentence for dealing drugs such as marijuana for organized crime purposes.

The proposed changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act include a mandatory two-year sentence for dealing drugs like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to youth and a two-year mandatory sentence for running large-scale marijuana grow-ops.

The proposed changes would increase the maximum sentence for marijuana production to 14 years, from seven, and impose tougher penalties for trafficking in so-called date-rape drugs.

Nicholson said the proposed changes target gangs and organized crime, sending a clear message to drug traffickers.

“If you want to bring drugs into this country you are going to jail,” the federal minister told reporters.

He was in the Vancouver region, where 18 shootings in the past month have been blamed on a gang war over control of the drug trade, and where police were investigating yet another suspicious death on Friday.

“Whether or not it’s a slaying, I don’t know yet. We are waiting for the autopsy to help us with that.” said Cpl. Dale Carr of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

“It’s certainly very suspicious.”

Members of the homicide team were called early Thursday afternoon to a rural area of Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver.

Officers at first believed they were investigating a crash because a white SUV was found upside down in a water-filled ditch, but called the homicide team when the body was removed from the vehicle.

Carr would not confirm how the man died.

“The investigation team is holding that back for investigational reasons,” he said.

Despite critics who say tougher sentences and more jails won’t resolve the issue, the proposed changes to federal laws have been welcomed in British Columbia, where one of the victims of seven recent fatal shootings was a young mother gunned down while driving with her four-year-old son in the back seat.

On Thursday, Nicholson tabled amendments to the Criminal Code that will classify gang killings as first-degree murder, carrying an automatic life sentence with a minimum 25 years without parole.

The bill would also create a new offence and a minimum four-year prison term for drive-by shootings, with the possibility of up to 14 years. Another change toughens Criminal Code sections on assaulting police officers.
Nicholson said Friday the measures will help reduce gang violence by fragmenting the gangs when more go to prison.

“What we want to do is get some of these people off the street. We want to break up this activity.”

However, Nicholson also said addicts who deal drugs simply to pay for their habit will get a break with suspended sentences if they go through a treatment program.

The proposed legislation would allow a specialized drug treatment court to “encourage the accused person to deal with the addiction that motivates their criminal behaviour,” said a news release from the federal Justice Department.

– Article from The Canadian Press.


Government Re-introduces Legislation to Fight Serious Drug Crimes

from the Canadian Department of Justice

VANCOUVER, February 27, 2009 – The Government of Canada today re-introduced legislation providing mandatory minimum prison sentences for serious drug crimes. The bill would establish mandatory jail time for those who produce and sell illegal drugs. This Government is taking the necessary steps to crack down on crime and to ensure the safety and security of our neighbourhoods and communities.

“The Government is fighting back against gangs and other organized criminal groups by introducing new crime laws that target drug crimes, gangs and organized crime,” said the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. “Mandatory prison sentences are appropriate for those who commit serious drug offences threatening our society.”

The proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) would impose mandatory jail time for producing and selling illegal drugs. This legislation calls for special penalties to be imposed when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes or if they target youth.

The amendments to the CDSA would include the provision of:

  • a one-year mandatory prison sentence for dealing drugs such as marijuana, when carried out for organized crime purposes or when a weapon or violence is involved;
  • a two-year mandatory prison sentence for dealing drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to youth, or for dealing those drugs near a school or in an area normally frequented by youth
  • a two-year mandatory prison sentence for the offence of running a large marijuana grow operation involving at least 500 plants
  • increased maximum penalties for cannabis production from 7 years to 14 years imprisonment; and,
  • tougher penalties for trafficking GHB and flunitrazepam, most commonly known as date-rape drugs.
    The proposed legislation would allow a Drug Treatment Court to suspend a sentence while the addicted accused person takes an approved treatment program. Drug Treatment Courts encourage the accused person to deal with the addiction that motivates their criminal behaviour. If the person successfully completes the program, the court normally imposes a suspended or reduced sentence. These courts include a blend of judicial supervision, incentives for reduced drug use, social services support, and sanctions for non-compliance.

“These measures are a proportionate and measured response designed to disrupt criminal enterprise; drug producers and dealers who threaten the safety of our communities must face tougher penalties,” said Minister Nicholson. “Our message to potential offenders is clear: if you sell or produce drugs, you will face jail time.”

Darren Eke
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

– From the Canadian Department of Justice


Mandatory prison sentences for serious drug crimes

from the Canadian Department of Justice

The Government today re-introduced amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) which was originally tabled in November 2007. The legislation provides mandatory jail time for producing and selling illegal drugs, and will allow special penalties to be imposed when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve youth. This legislation supports the National Anti-Drug Strategy’s efforts to combat illicit drug production and distribution.

The proposed reforms would help disrupt criminal enterprises by targeting drug suppliers. It would send a clear message to growers and traffickers that this illicit activity will not be tolerated, and they will be punished — especially when their activities involve Canada’s youth or trafficking near schools.

Anyone found guilty of a serious drug offence would automatically receive a mandatory term of imprisonment. For the purpose of this initiative, serious drug offences would include:

  • production;
  • trafficking;
  • possession for the purpose of trafficking;
  • importing and exporting; and
  • possession for the purpose of exporting.

The Bill would amend the CDSA to include mandatory prison terms for drugs listed in Schedule I, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and in Schedule II, such as marijuana. Generally, the minimum sentence would apply where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard. Also, the maximum penalty for production of Schedule II drugs, e.g., marijuana, would be increased from 7 to 14 years.

The aggravating factors involve offences committed:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involving use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who has been previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a serious drug offence;
  • in a prison;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • through involving a youth in the commission of the offence; and,
  • in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth).

The security, health and safety factors are:

  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area; and,
  • the accused placed or set a trap.

Also, GHB and flunitrazepam, most commonly known as date-rape drugs, and amphetamine drugs would be moved from Schedule III to Schedule I, which would provide access to higher maximum penalties for illegal activities involving these drugs.

Exemption for the Drug Treatment Court

The proposed legislation would allow a Drug Treatment Court (DTC) to suspend the imposition of a sentence while the addicted accused person takes an approved treatment program. Drug Treatment Courts encourage the accused person to deal with the addiction that motivates their criminal behaviour. If the person successfully completes the program, the court normally imposes a suspended or reduced sentence.

SEE ANNEX A FOR THE PROPOSED NEW MANDATORY SENTENCES FOR SERIOUS DRUG OFFENCES SCHEDULE 1 DRUGS (COCAINE, HEROIN, METHAMPHETAMINE, ETC.)

SEE ANNEX B FOR THE PROPOSED NEW MANDATORY SENTENCES FOR SERIOUS DRUG OFFENCES SCHEDULE II DRUGS (CANNABIS AND MARIJUANA)

ANNEX A

ANNEX B

1 Aggravating Factors List A

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • for the benefit of organized crime;
  • involving use or threat of violence;
  • involved use or threat of use of weapons;
  • by someone who was previously convicted (in the past 10 years) of a serious drug offence involving a Schedule I or II substance.

2 Aggravating Factors List B

The aggravating factors include offences committed:

  • in a prison;
  • in or near a school, in or near an area normally frequented by youth or in the presence of youth;
  • in concert with a youth;
  • in relation to a youth (e.g. selling to a youth).

3 Health and Safety Factors

  • the accused used real property that belongs to a third party to commit the offence;
  • the production constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard to children who were in the location where the offence was committed or in the immediate area;
  • the production constituted a potential public safety hazard in a residential area;
  • the accused placed or set a trap.

– From the Canadian Department of Justice

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