CANNABIS CULTURE – Despite reports from the mainstream press and Cannabis Culture, Bill S-10, the Conservative legislation that includes mandatory minimum jail sentences for marijuana crimes, has NOT been passed by the Canadian Senate.
S-10 passed Committee, but the Committee report remains in the Presentation and Debate stage before third reading in the Senate.
In a Vancouver Sun article titled “Senate passes bill with mandatory jail sentence for growing 5 pot plants” Postmedia News reporter Janice Tibbetts wrote, “The Senate has backed away from a fight with the Conservative government and passed a controversial drug-sentencing bill that would automatically imprison people caught growing five or more marijuana plants.”
Cannabis Culture reposted the Sun article on Monday with further comment and information about contacting your Member of Parliament to help stop the bill from becoming Canadian law.
Upon further research by this reporter, it turns out this information was incorrect. According to government documents, Bill S-10 remains in Report Stage before third reading in the Senate. CC apologizes for reporting the incorrect information.
When I first reposted the story on Monday, I noticed that the Parliament of Canada website page for Bill S-10 showed the Senate Committee Report had not been approved, and the bill had not been through 3rd reading. Thinking the website just needed to be updated, I assumed the information from the Sun (and other activist websites) was correct.
When I saw today that the information had not changed, I called the Parliamentary Information Service who said the website had been recently updated, though they couldn’t actually confirm whether the information was correct. After a look through the Senate Hansard for November 24 and a call to the Speaker of the Senate’s office and the Office of Chamber Operations and Procedures, I can confirm that the bill has not passed and remains in the Report Presentation and Debate stage.
This is good news as it means that the possible passage of Bill S-10 will be delayed further, giving us more time to organize against it – though it will most likely be passed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stacked Senate.
The Hansard also documents discussion of an amendment to the bill proposed by Liberal Senator Charlie Watt to address what he called “a tradition” in the Canadian Criminal Code called the Gladue principle.
“Under this principle, judges are mandated under section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code to look for alternatives to jail for Aboriginal offenders.” Watt told his fellow Senators (originally in Inuktitut). “Judges have been instructed to pay specific attention to the circumstances surrounding Aboriginal offenders during sentencing. The minister stated that Bill S-10 will override the Gladue principles and that the mandatory minimum will apply to all people.”
The proposed amendment reads:
A court sentencing an aboriginal person who is convicted of an offence under this Part is not required to impose the minimum punishment for the offence if the court is satisfied that
(a) the minimum punishment would be unduly harsh, having regard to the circumstances of the aboriginal offender; and
(b) another sanction that is reasonable in the circumstances is available.
(7) If, under subsection (6), the court decides not to impose a minimum punishment, it shall give reasons for that decision.”
Discussion of the amendment was adjourned until a later date.
Bill S-10 includes mandatory prison terms of six months for just a few plants. These mandatory sentences increases to a two-year minimum for growing or dealing near a school or park, and even more time with other ‘aggravating factors’.
The bill also includes mandatory jail terms of 18 months for extracting and sharing hash or making pot edibles. This means medical marijuana users who make pot cookies would be at risk of arrest, as there is no protection of this activity by current medical marijuana laws.
YOU CAN HELP STOP S-10 FROM BECOMING CANADIAN LAW
Please contact your Senator and Member of Parliament and tell them to VOTE NO on Bill S-10. No mandatory minimums for marijuana!
Find a link to your Senator’s contact info on this list – or call them all!
Let the Liberal Party know you are against this bill – call Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff: (613) 995-9364
Click here for information about occupying your Member of Parliaments office as a protest.
Sign up at WhyProhibition.ca to get involved in marijuana activism online and receive regular updates about S-10 and protest actions in your area.
Watch Cannabis Culture for more news about Bill S-10 and upcoming activism events.