Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service
For: All the information on Bill C-15 see
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)


Canada's justice minister says people who sell or grow marijuana
belong in jail because pot is used as a "currency" to bring harder
drugs into the country.

"This lubricates the business and that makes me nervous," Rob
Nicholson told the Commons justice committee Wednesday as he faced
tough questions about a controversial bill to impose automatic jail
and prison sentences for drug crimes, including growing as little as
one pot plant.

"Marijuana is the currency that is used to bring other more serious
drugs into the country."

Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act currently contains no
mandatory prison sentences and judges use their own discretion about
whether to send drug pushers and growers to jail.

But the Conservatives have proposed legislation that would impose
one-year mandatory jail time for marijuana dealing, when it is linked
to organized crime or a weapon is involved.

The sentence would be increased to two years for dealing drugs such as
cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines to young people, or pushing drugs
near a school or other places frequented by youths.

The proposed legislation would impose six months for growing one to
200 marijuana plants to sell, and two years for big-time growers of
500 plants or more.

The bill is arguably the most controversial piece of justice
legislation introduced by the Conservative and critics have warned
that, if passed, it could flood prisons and jails.

Opposition critics voiced concerns Wednesday that a crackdown would
not only target big-time dealers, but it would end up sending drug
addicts to provincial prisons, which have no few treatment programs in

New Democrat Libby Davies repeatedly grilled Nicholson on whether he
has any evidence that minimum mandatory jail terms reduce crime.
Davies cited studies prepared for the Justice Department several years
ago showing that automatically jailing drug criminals does nothing to
deter crime, as has been shown in the United States.
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