Pubdate: Sat, 11 Jun 2005
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Paul Egan
Bookmark: (Mandatory Minimum Sentencing)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Trafficking Penalty Slammed As Too Lenient

THE sale of cold remedies and other non-prescription medicines that
can be used to make crystal meth should be moved behind store
counters, Western Canadian cabinet ministers agreed at a meeting in
Regina yesterday.

Manitoba Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh and his colleagues also
called on the federal government to increase to life in prison the
maximum penalty for trafficking in the dangerous and increasingly
popular drug.

And the government should create a new crime -- possessing ingredients
or equipment for the purpose of manufacturing crystal meth -- one of
many street terms for the drug methamphetamine, Mackintosh said.

The meeting of provincial ministers was upstaged by federal Health
Minister Ujjal Dosanjh's announcement that the Liberal government is
proposing stricter controls on the chemicals used to produce crystal
meth. Dosanjh also said he favours harsher penalties for dealing
crystal meth.

"It makes one cynical," Mackintosh said of the timing of the Dosanjh
announcement. "At the same time, we welcome any changes they plan to

Crystal meth is increasingly popular as a recreational drug that
creates a long-lasting high and as a means of staying awake for
extended periods among certain workers, such as long-haul truckers.
But it is leaving a wake of addiction, crime, devastation and death
among both types of users. The maximum federal penalty for trafficking
in crystal meth is 10 years. By contrast, trafficking in cocaine or
heroin carries maximum penalties of life in prison. Trafficking in
marijuana carries a maximum five-year sentence for 85 grams or less,
but a maximum life term for greater amounts.

Manufacturers of crystal meth use common ingredients such as ephedrine
or pseudoephedrine, found in in-front-of-the-counter cold and asthma

Mackintosh said the western ministers, who were joined by
representatives of Canada's northern territories and North Dakota's
attorney general, have agreed to work together on restricting such
sales to behind the counter, setting age restrictions, and restricting
the volumes that can be purchased.

Similar legislation has been passed or is under consideration in at
least 25 U.S. states.

A report with specific proposals is to be prepared for the western
ministers by Oct. 1, he said. Manitoba may take certain measures
before then, he said.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin