NORML Canada: May 2013 Newsletter

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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.]

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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 normlization efforts. The Americans are starting to wake up with major cities like Chicago
enacting 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.

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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.

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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!

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