Dear Senator,

Norml Canada is appealing to your better judgment and urging you to vote against Bill C-10, also known as the omnibus crime bill. We believe that, as part of a progressive tradition that represents our Canadian history of tolerance, your opposition to this bill will make you a hero because it is our belief that by taking a strong stand against this Bill you will rise above partisan politics and do what is right for Canadians. We believe the house of sober second thought should vote down this ill-conceived piece of legislation.

Marijuana is a mild intoxicant that has a variety of health benefits. It is widely used in Canadian society and a majority of Canadians support its legalization. Imposing mandatory minimums for low level marijuana offences will have the effect of overburdening our jails and our justice system as this bad law will remove the incentive to plead guilty. It will be fantastically expensive during a time of fiscal restraint. It takes away valuable discretion from trial judges, which is a great strength of the Canadian judicial system. Further, the scientific evidence suggests jail sentences do not deter marijuana use in society. The current science also tells us that jail sentences for marijuana offences make the drug trade more lucrative for criminal organizations. For the above reasons Bill C-10 will likely be challenged in court as cruel and unusual punishment, contrary to section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is made more probable by the repeated findings in various Canadian courts that the medical marijuana regime is unconstitutional. Marijuana does not belong in the domain of the criminal justice system.

In 2002 the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs spent two years studying these issues. Senator Pierre Claude Nolin was the Chairman of the Committee. Senator Noel Kinsella was among the nine Senators on the Committee. Senators Ethel Cochrane, Consiglio Di Nino and Gerry St. Germain also participated in the Committee. Their final report was over 600 pages long. The Committee found, in part, that:

-The criminalization of cannabis enhances the power and wealth of organized crime;
-The criminalization of cannabis is doing more harm than good;
-Cannabis not a gateway drug;
-Cannabis use is not associated with violence or criminality;
-Physical dependence on cannabis is virtually non-existent; and
-Used in moderation cannabis use poses very little danger to users or to society.

The crime bill is being introduced at a time in which the rest of the world is waking up to the fact that jail for cannabis offences and prohibition generally are failed policies that have been scientifically discredited. If you have any doubt about that, you need look no further than the June 2011 Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy which was authored by, among others, Louise Arbour, Kofi Annan, Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former President of Brazil), Cesar Gaviria (former President of Columbia), Ruth Dreifuss (former President of Switzerland), George Schultz (former U.S. Secretary of State), Paul Volker (former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve) and Mario Vargas Lhosa. The crime bill represents failed public policy. It is cruel and expensive. It is not the Canadian way. Vote your conscience. Vote against Bill C-10.

These are just some of the reasons that we at NORML Canada sincerely urge you to ignore party lines and vote with your conscience to defeat Bill C-10 for the good of all canadians
Thank you for saving Canada.

NORML Canada