PR: Bill C10 is Worst-Case Scenario of Marijuana Prohibition

PR: Bill C10 is Worst-Case Scenario of Marijuana Prohibition

PR: Bill C10 is Worst-Case Scenario of Marijuana Prohibition

Bill C10 is Worst-Case Scenario of Marijuana Prohibition


March 15, 2004

Bill C10 is Worst-Case Scenario of Marijuana Prohibition —
Canadians will Register Disapproval in Upcoming Federal Election
Bill C10 is contrary to the desire of Canadians to see the end to the prohibition of marijuana, says the Canadian Cannabis Coalition (CCC) ­ an umbrella organization representing medical, commercial and personal aspects of cannabis, dedicated to facilitating access to a safe supply of cannabis through research, education and advocacy. Instead of alleviating the harms of prohibition, this Bill would cause a “netwidening effect”, ultimately punishing an increased number of Canadians. It would also lead to an entrenched illegal market.

The Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs warned that despite the fact that some may say that decriminalization is a step in the right direction, “this approach is in fact the worst-case scenario, depriving the State of a regulatory tool needed in dealing with the entire production, distribution, and consumption network, and delivering a rather hypocritical message at the same time.” The report also states “decriminalization of use is a weak variation of prohibition, in the long run entailing more disadvantages than advantages.”

Bill C10, currently on its third reading in parliament, would allow the provinces that are signatories to the Contraventions Act to implement fines for small amounts of cannabis possession ($150-$400 for under 15 grams of cannabis or 1 gram of resin) and cultivation ($500 for 3 plants or less). The CCC is concerned that the flat fine scale discriminates against low-income Canadians, including those using cannabis medically but illegally due to the government’s unworkable medical marijuana regulations. In the event that the Bill is enacted into law, the CCC believes many Canadians will register their disapproval by fighting fines.

In provinces that are not signatories, including British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, these offences would remain punishable under the Criminal Code through fines and summary convictions. Under both schemes, the possibility of imprisonment and a record remain intact. MP Libby Davies’ proposal for a special provision that would guarantee no imprisonment on default of fines was not accepted. The Bill also provides foreign governments access to these records by court order. While this Bill would be an improvement for some Canadians who would otherwise face a criminal record and imprisonment under the current scheme, possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis most often results in confiscation only. As a result, this Bill would pull many more Canadians into contact the justice system since police officers may become more vigilant in enforcing the law due to the perceived ease of ticketing compared to arrest.

Bill C10’s proposal to double the punishment to 14 years maximum for cultivators of over 50 plants would make the penalty higher than that for rape or manslaughter and risks filling Canadian jails with non-violent drug offenders. The increased risk and cost associated with production would increase black market profits, violence and corruption.

Debate in the House of Commons over Bill C10 demonstrates inexcusable misinformation on the part of many Liberal and Alliance MP’s. Mandatory minimums and forced treatment for repeat offenses are part and parcel of their Reefer Madness vision of a new cannabis drug strategy. Former Justice Minister, Martin Cauchon, sought US input into the Bill before it had even been read in Canadian Parliament. If the Bill passes its third reading it will go to the Senate for a sober second look. In such a case, the CCC urges the Senate to amend Bill C10 to reflect the unanimous conclusions of its Special Committee to fully legalize and regulate cannabis. Whether the Bill passes or not before the upcoming federal election, the CCC believes Canada’s 3 to 5 million cannabis consumers will support political parties and candidates that are more tolerant of their choices and respectful of their rights.

For more information, please contact these members of the CCC:
Rielle Capler 604-875-0214
Philippe Lucas 250-884-9821
David Malmo-Levine 604-842-7790

Boris St. Maurice 888-528-1768 cell-514-808-8682

Alison Myrden 905- 681-8287
Neev @ CALM 416-367-3459

For further information about The Canadian Cannabis Coalition: