Reefer Madness: Automatic Jail for Six Pot Plants is Too Harsh

Ignoring what was a wise recommendation on the part of the Senate, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has revived an ill-considered bill that will impose a mandatory minimum sentence of six months for anyone convicted of growing as few as six marijuana plants.

The Harper government has apparently learned nothing from the U.S. experience of its war on drugs. Despite 25 years of harsh mandatory minimums, disproportionate numbers of the poor, the young, minorities and the drug addicted have been thrown in U.S. jails with no impact on the drug business itself, which has flourished. Several U.S. states have recently retreated from mandatory minimums as ineffective.

Sending anyone to jail for six pot plants without taking into account aggravating circumstances will only send college kids to the slammer. Aggravating circumstances include the presence of guns and weapons, or children. If there are these or other aggravating conditions, by all means, throw the book at them. That’s what the Senate recommended when considering the bill last fall, before the Harper government prorogued Parliament. The Senate set the bar at 200 plants for garnering automatic incarceration, but left it at the current five plants in cases where aggravating factors were involved.

Nicholson has ignored those amendments and resurrected his bill as it passed in the House of Commons last June, with the support of the Liberals. The bill, introduced for the third time after dying twice before, removes discretion for judges to sentence as they see fit. For the home user, growing six plants would trigger an automatic sentence of nine months in jail.

A recent Angus Reid poll found that 53 per cent of Canadians support legalizing marijuana. In Alberta, support was even higher, at 59 per cent. A recent analysis of 15 international studies, done by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, also showed that increased drug law enforcement only resulted in increasing levels of drug violence. The studies also noted that U.S. marijuana use is higher than Europe, and that Portugal, which recently decriminalized all drugs, has the lowest rates in Europe.

The Harper government’s proposed legislation will catch more renters than homeowners, because involving a third party is one of several mitigating factors. Set up in the name of protecting children, it will have the consequence of punishing young people who are going to school, branding them for life.

Mandatory minimums are necessary for gun crimes and should be imposed without question. But there are bigger crime issues to be tackled than some kid growing six pot plants on a balcony instead of five. When gang members are back on the street after using a gun in a crime and college kids face jail time for growing a half-dozen pot plants on their balconies, something is drastically amiss.

– Article from The Calgary Herald.



  1. ray christl on

    Vote and use your name. Stand up and get a bus full of americans to Cali to legalize this November . Get to EUREKA Ca. 1st of november and register–quik-system in Kali toVOTE go back home or stay in freedom. It’s our choice. DEMOS can work if…$$$ and courge and logic

  2. ray christl on

    Smoking the least effective modus to heal,yet smoking is immediate ,esp. for PAIN

  3. Anonymous on

    Maybe these sophisticated prisons are really retirement homes, think of it as that, same damn thing almost! And a Hospital, more like prison than medical help!

  4. Dave on

    Wow man, you sound violent! Are you sure you’re a pot-smoker? Pot-smokers want to get along with everyone; we want to be friends with everyone!

  5. Anonymous on

    they’re all out to get you. everyone is against you not for money or for safety or for anything else but to watch you die in jail.

  6. Adam on

    This is how they reward my participation in their society.
    Every single author involved in writing this bill knows I am exactly the person they want to target.

    It’s the smartest and most functional drug users they are TRYING to jail.
    They want to run us under the treads of the tank that is democracy, they want to watch as many of our kind as possible die in jail, die in shootings, die from self-inflicted wounds, die from tainted drugs, die any way they can help us die because they have built the foundation of their power on hate and fear, and anyone who knows how to deal with hate and fear has to quiet down, disappear, or die.

  7. Anonymous on

    No community service for this guy. Give me 6-9 months in jail and set me free to do it again, nice and clean. What can they do if you refuse to work in prison too, lock you up? Ouch. I ain’t doin’ shit. Now gimme my lunch and shut the hell up, please and thank you, Warden Grimsby. No, you can’t have my apple crisp again.

  8. 421 on

    what if i have a mother plant and take clones and grow them real big? whats the penalty for that?

  9. renney b. on

    the healthy choice is being beaten down by politicians and big businesses, for them it seems it all about the money…they dont realy care about us, our children, our families and our health and safety… this war on marijuana has destroyed so much lives and property, the casualties are numberless… however, this is all about freedom to choose our food, medicine, fuel, clothing, building material and our spiritual rituals and sacraments… cannabis can provide so much good to our people, why are they trying to stop the progress and future development of such a wonderful plant… like gold it cannot be compared because it a living thing (the tree of life),yet it enrich our lives with peace, love and holy fire… as far as i am concern cannabis is a health care issue and the conservatives need to open their eyes and see the miracle that is taking place all over the world… emancipate yourselves from mental and physical slavery, none but ourselves (cannabis culture )can free our minds… bob marley and his dedication to rastafari has enlighten the masses through reggae to stand up for our right to life, past, present and future… cannabis is a lifestyle choice and i am choosing the healthy choice; free the weed and free marc emery…

  10. ray christl pastor thc ministry camb on

    Machine can be an organic remedy from the Greek word -mechos- Yes commit to end this WAR because we can cure CANCER not just smoke our SACRAMENT. People think we’re very selfish, but HERO Machine puts a NEW spin on our winning message ONE LOVE…DESTINY (O.L.D.)Ray Christl from Phnom Penh

  11. Anonymous on

    The conservative ways dont work. Legalize weed is the way to go

  12. Anonymous on

    I’m going to smoke as much marijuana as possible and if the government ever tries to stop me they won’t be taking me alive!!!!! They assume the stoners & growers would be armed and dangerous… maybe everyone has to be armed and dangerous,… like USA’s ‘right to bare arms’ is emphasized quite a lot as a good thing..??? Maybe the stoners and growers should go out and get some weapons, because that is the only thing to accommodate the assumed dangerous people description by law enforcement and government stereotypes. You will get tased & hog-tied if you look a cop wrong these days so doesn’t matter if you doing really bad crime, or just a little anxious to avoid getting harrassed for smoking a Joint! Why are marijuana protests in line with laws? Because the stoners are trying to obey the laws, but everyone knows legalization is necessary. Another brainwashed conflict in moral opinions controlled by ignorant politicians which are targeting drug dealers and putting the good stoners in the same category!!!!! So if an easy going person with an inner demon decides to keep them self in line and be a good hard working person most of their life and received a fair amount of discrimination during the last few years gets caught with a few plants and happens to get thrown in prison for that, thats bogus, not fair at all!!!!!! The law might as well charge the grower with attempted murder because that is what will happen inside the prison by the grower when the first crackhead, B&E specialist ignorant gang member attitude prick rapist or lying scam artist decides to get in their face and cause static. Now Canada is getting harsher than USA laws… Harper, any of your law enforcement officers and tactics try to stop me from smoking ganja it will be considered an assault on me and an attack on my livelihood for my survival because your country is now a giant fraud which it has always been, but more now than ever! ELECTRIC NEURONS IN THE NERVOUS SYSTEM ARE At AN EXTRA HIGH FREQUENCY WHEN WE GOT ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCES THAT ARE DAMAGING THAT WE CAN’T AVOID, RADIO ACTIVE SIGNALS THROUGH THE BRAIN EVERYDAY 24/7/365. Because societies lust for technology doesn’t care if you turn into blinky 3 eyed fish from The Simpsons. USING PRIORITIES TO STOP DOPE GROWERS, These are fear tactics, FEAR PROMOTES PANIC, PANIC PROMOTES FIGHT OR FLIGHT INSTINCT – Run or Attack!!!!. It will only make it more dangerous for this society to have illegal growers. The government made and manufactured guns, its their fault they exist so confiscate them all and stop selling them. Sorry to sound aggressive or overboard… but well, when your life depends on this sacred plant for survival and the country you live in will deny you the right to keep our health and livelihood in the right mode and want us to be drug free, why doesn’t the government outlaw sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, paint & cold pills, aerosol sprays, make some meth from cold pills eh bitch! A Nice hot lemon ‘cold remedy’ drink will give me a nice methamphetamine high that is legal!!! BUt can be fatal??? What inefficient progress the government is. I hope Harpers kids turn into addicts from being silver spoon affected spoiled brats who have their own emergency room for their upcoming OD’s lined up already, possibly, hopefully, maybe, Harper your kids need to smoke ganja, they will do it behind your back and they will want to if it stays illegal!! He is not making it safer for his kids, how could you need anything more safe for your kids, they are watched by snipers to protect them already?

  13. persecutedinalberni on

    It is no longer a matter of legalizing it,it is about imprisoning these sick politicians that keep bullshitting about the marijuans facts when “WE ALL KNOW” it was and is all based on bullshit.

    The world has all the facts in front of them,we all know it was to ban hemp because it was a threat to the oil/cotton/lumber/chemical/plastic industries.

    We all know it is not bad for us if anything it is shown to be good for us if taken properly.

    So it is now time to turn the tables on these sick people who continue to spread hatred and controll and imprison anyone who upholds any marijuans laws.

    This is the way we need to look at it because like I say all the the facts are in,enough studies are in even the ones the MAN doesn’t want you to know.

    So how and why would we want to accept any illtreatment from anyone who chooses to call me a criminal because I choose to grow and smoke my own herb.

    Round up all the little hitlers that decided these bills would be good for us and put these hate mongers in prison for even considering such a bill.

    The conservatives and Mr Harper are evil people in my opinion,they persecuted me because I can change the world and so they set out to discredit me and my family name.

    They need to be voted out allright and then thrown in jail.

  14. Anonymous on

    Yeah! Right on ! I predict the same for Harpers kid. One day one of them will be caught with cocaine or meth…and daddy will be real embarassed….Bu then I guess he did not sing Ill get high with a little help from my friends for nothing…Heu..heu…heu…

  15. Dave on

    Just be patient and watch; you’ll see one of harper’s kids turn into a drunken fool. Just be patient!

  16. Anonymous on

    In the US, you have to grow 10 plants to get a mandatory minimum of 6 months. Canada is now officially even worse than the US for inappropriate Cannabis sentences. We were doing so well for a while and now Harper has taken us back to the dark ages of Cannabis repression. Just took all those years of progress and flushed them down the toilet. They still don’t even have a functional medical Cannabis program yet and it’s 9 years after the court decision that mandated it. I’ve heard of slow but this is just clearly obstruction and non- compliance.

  17. Anonymous on

    This is totally UNACCEPTABLE. There is simply no way for mister rob nicholson to go home after work and have a drink while he thinks he’s gonna prevent me from smoking and enjoying my home grown buds.This is mission impossible. I just could not care less about what he does after work and he should similarly not care an ounce about my preferences.If planet Earth is so unsympathetic to the cannabis plant, then I am simply thinking that I was born on the wrong planet (just to see the conservatives in power makes me believe it is really so)and you can jail me anytime. I am over 21 years old,vaccinated and totally assuming my choices of life and following the Principle put forth by my friend Marc Emery which is to plant the seeds of freedom.

  18. Anonymous on

    With 61% of the people in complete disagreement with everything Harper has done and will do. It is time to call another election? This right wing political trash needs to be given a new mandate. Political Retirement!!!!!!!!!

  19. Anonymous on

    Im from calgary where this article is from and its good to see our papers start reporting stuff like this the more they do the more people realize what a failure the drug war really is.