New Conservative Drug Legislation Includes Harsh Penalties For Pot

The Conservative Party of Canada has proposed draconian new drug legislation that includes mandatory prison sentences for non-violent offenders. If passed, the laws would significantly increase jail time for adults caught possessing, selling, or growing marijuana, and would introduce outrageous penalties like six-months imprisonment for producing as little as a single plant.

The new provisions call for mandatory prison terms for dealing drugs such as cocaine and heroin, and increased maximum penalties for cannabis production from 7 to 14 years.

Stephen Harper has seized a moment of heightened public anxiety over a recent surge in gang violence to push for the proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, claiming critics of his so-called “tough on crime” policies just “don’t want them to work.” With many activists, journalists, criminologists, ex-cops, and sensible politicians agreeing that the only way to get rid of gang violence is to end the War on Drugs, rational Canadians have been left wondering what the Prime Minister and his party have been smoking.

As several recent newspaper articles have noted, drug prohibition directly causes gang violence by creating a black market and organized criminals who turn to violence because they have no legal recourse to settle business disputes. The only way to truly eliminate the illegal drug trade is to legalize all drugs, taking them out of the hands of the criminals and putting them into a regulated and controlled environment. Harper’s new laws will only escalate the growing gang violence by criminalizing more Canadians, pushing marijuana production further into the control of those willing to take big risks.

“Alcohol prohibition did not work,” MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, NDP) said in a statement about gang violence he made to the House of Commons last week. “Many of the same problems now associated with the drug trade were experienced in the United States during its period of alcohol prohibition. It took ending prohibition and implementing alcohol control policies to restore respect for the law and make progress on alcohol related social issues. Bold steps to confront our drug use hypocrisy and end the profitability of illegal drugs will make our communities safer.”

To see the results of the “tough” US-style policies the Conservative Party hopes to bring to Canada, Harper need only look south to Mexico, where police and military forces are fighting a bloody battle with vicious drug cartels for control of the streets. Just as in Mexico, corrupt Canadian officials are already being implicated for working secretly with gangsters.

In a underreported story last week, CTV News revealed that “a federal government employee may have been leaking confidential information to known B.C. gangsters.”

“In sworn testimony last October,” the news agency reported, “retired RCMP inspector Mike Ryan of the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. answered ‘yes’ when asked if police suspected that a Canadian Revenue Agency employee had been leaking information on behalf of rivals of the United Nations Gang”.

If Harper and the Conservatives get their way, Canada runs the risk of becoming the next Drug War-Zone.

The chart below (from the Department of Justice) shows a breakdown of the Conservatives’ proposed changes to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.



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.