July 2012 NORML Canada Newsletter

Greetings NORML Canada members and welcome to the summer of 2012. The summer is traditionally a time to relax and unwind. [Many in the cannabis community have finished the hard work of spring and the wait for the cooler days and longer nights of fall has begun.]

The hard work of educating our government about the harms of prohibition never ends. Implementation of the dreaded mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis “crimes” was announced this week.

Canada is taking a big step backward on cannabis issues while places like Uruguay and Columbia take the lead in normalization efforts. The Americans are starting to wake up with major cities like Chicagoenacting a decriminalization model. Currently 17 American states have enacted some form of medical marijuana initiatives, and there are 7 more statewide initiatives being considered. When countries in South America and American states are coming around to the reality of the harms of prohibition, why then is the Harper Government ignoring all the evidence and instead ramping up the drug war in Canada? [working so hard to throw us in jail?]

Canada is the only country in the world that has a Federal medicinal cannabis program; we should be a shining beacon around the world. [not facing oppression and stigma for our choice to consume this relatively benign substance.] Instead Ottawa is taking steps to further restrict the MMAR program and is attempting to do away with personal growing in favor of a large scale commercial production model. For more information about the Health Canada proposed changes click here.

NORML Canada hopes everyone across this land had a Happy 145th Canada Day, and encourages all of us to become more involved in the political process. Sitting on our hands and complaining about how this country is being run will not solve our problems. Identifying, assisting and voting for open minded, supportive candidates will. Join us as we work to find these candidates and help us change things once and for all.

 

Vienna Declaration

NORML Canada is beginning a pilot project with the good people at the Vienna Declaration. It is our hope that member volunteers across Canada will engage with us as we approach smaller municipalities in an attempt to create grass roots support for this initiative. Anyone interested in working with us to bring this important message to their local City Council is encouraged to email us at info@norml.ca Please put Vienna Declaration in the subject line of the email.

 

C-10 Update: Coming into Force in November

The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to “move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism.” [The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012] The Conservative Government claims the criminal law amendments in this legislation will make
communities safer by:

  • helping improve the safety of all Canadians and, in particular, extending greater protection to the most vulnerable members of society; and

  • further enhancing the ability of Canada’s justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions.

Amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to increase penalties for serious drug crime – Coming into Force November 6, 2012

These amendments will:

  • provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including when such offences are carried out for organized crime purposes or if they involve targeting youth.

These serious drug offences include:

  • production;

  • trafficking;

  • possession for the purpose of trafficking;

  • importing and exporting; and

  • possession for the purpose of exporting.

Generally, the mandatory minimum penalty would apply where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard.

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;

  • by abusing a position of authority or access to restricted areas;

  • 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.

  • make exemptions for the mandatory minimum sentence by allowing a court to
    delay sentencing while an addicted, non-violent offender takes a treatment program approved by the province under the supervision of the court as outlined in section 720(2) of the Criminal Code or a Drug Treatment Court approved program. If the offender successfully completes the treatment program, the court would not be required to impose the mandatory minimum and could impose a reduced sentence.

  • increase the maximum penalty for the production of marijuana from seven to 14 years.

A detailed backgrounder on Increasing Penalties for Serious Drug Crime can be found on the Department of Justice Canada’s Web site.

In other legislative news…

 

Bill C-43 has been recently put before the House of Commons

This Bill will amend the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act. Currently, a permanent resident (a non-Canadian citizen) is inadmissible into Canada if convicted of an offence where the maximum penalty is at least 10 years or where the sentence is at least 6 months (this includes a conditional sentence). Currently, a permanent resident can appeal (as long as the sentence was under 2 years) a removal order for criminality to the Immigration Appeal Division on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Bill C-43 would deny any appeal to anybody receiving a sentence of 6 months or more. It is common to receive a conditional sentence in excess of 6 months for a routine marihuana garden.

Bill C-10 which has now received royal assent and comes into effect November 6, 2012 mandates 6 months jail for 6 plants if it is found to be for the purpose of trafficking. The cannabis community should be aware of this nasty new bill and the potential impact it will have on Canadians.

Have a happy and safe July Cannabians, the time has come to lighten up the oppressive laws and step out of the shadows. There are millions of us, be proud, be free, be Cannabian!