Dear Senator,

I am writing today in regards to Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.

As you are certainly aware, the Senate will be voting on the passage of this Bill during the upcoming session.

The Bill, which lumps nine pieces of legislation into one omnibus package, calls for, among other things, mandatory minimum sentences for minor marijuana cultivation offenses.

Supporters of marijuana legalization feel these mandatory minimum sentences are a troubling development for Canada. Mandatory minimum sentences are a proven failure in the jurisdictions that have enacted them. In the USA, several states, including Texas, have been moving away from this failed policy.

Research and statistics over the past four decades have shown that these sentencing policies have done nothing to prevent marijuana use or cultivation; they have even been found contribute to increasing the violence of the drug trade. Tougher laws only encourage a tougher breed of criminals, putting otherwise law abiding, peaceful users of marijuana in contact with a more dangerous criminal element.

The best way to address and reduce the “problematic” use of marijuana is by regulating and legalizing this plant. In Holland, where marijuana can be purchased openly, the Dutch have one of the lowest rates of marijuana usage per capita.

With this in mind, the direction taken in regards to marijuana by Bill C-10 is diametrically opposed to global trends, and established science concerning how to best address marijuana abuse.

Public opinion in Canada has been moving steadily towards greater tolerance of marijuana use. Over the past decades, this support has moved beyond the 50 percent threshold. Mandatory minimum sentences go against the will of the majority of Canadians, and is detrimental to their well-being.

We strongly urge you to ignore party lines or political strategies and vote with your conscience to defeat this bill, and send it back to the House of Commons so it may be further discussed and debated, in the best interest of all Canadians.

We trust you will make the right choice