1. Stopping ongoing arrests leading up to legalization: no more prison for pot
has five big concerns about the
BILL C-45 & Bill C-46
NORML Canada says the government should immediately halt arrests for simple possession and other cannabis offences leading up to legalization in July 2018 and if charged the Government should stop seeking sentences of actual imprisonment and focus on constructive alternatives and in particular stop seeking mandatory minimums NOW. Canadians should not continue receiving criminal records for a substance which will be legal in one year, and Canada will save significant resources on policing and prosecuting these simple offenses against otherwise law-abiding Canadians.
2. Criminal penalties for non-compliance under the Cannabis Act
While NORML Canada commends the government for creating a ticketing scheme for minor transgressions, the maximum penalties for a serious breach should be similar to the Tobacco Act in Canada. We believe imprisonment should be reserved for only the most serious of abuses, and be no greater than penalties for tobacco and alcohol. Further, cannabis laws disproportionately target our most vulnerable populations and communities, burden our criminal justice system, and have been demonstrated to be more harmful than the use of cannabis itself.
3. Accessible requirements for participation in the legal cannabis market, including cooperative growing
NORML Canada believes in a diverse legal cannabis landscape, where community gardens, cooperatives, and designated growers can participate and compete with larger corporations. Accessible requirements for participation in the cannabis industry are key to a successful legalization scheme, and must support the integration of a variety of stakeholders into the new legal cannabis market, including the expertise found in the grey or illicit space.
4. Pardoning past cannabis offenses
NORML Canada will continue to advocate for a legal cannabis regime which allows for pardons of past cannabis-related convictions, and clearly addresses the prejudice associated not only with convictions but also cases which resulted in stays of proceedings, withdrawals, and acquittals, as well as records in police databases which document prejudicial information even if no finding of guilt ever occurred. Further, prior cannabis-related records should not bar Canadians from participating in the new legal cannabis market, including both production and distribution.
5. Driving under the influence
While NORML Canada discourages driving motor vehicles or operating complex machinery while under the influence of cannabis, the government should continue to investigate the development of a fair system that targets those drivers whose ability to drive is impaired and avoids the arrest and conviction of innocent Canadians based on the mere presence of cannabinoids in one’s system. Unlike alcohol, cannabis can remain and be detected in the body for up to 90 days, and currently there are no devices to detect “impairment”, only the presence of THC. Special consideration should be given to medical cannabis users who may use cannabis daily or near daily to manage symptoms of their conditions, and ensure they are not unfairly targeted or criminalized by an arbitrary nanogram level.
Bill C45 here
and Bill C46 here